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THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 



BY THE SAME AUTHOR 

BORDERLAND STUDIES 
THE MARK O' THE DEIL 
THE WHITE-FACED PRIEST 



TALES OF 
NORTHUMBRIA 



BY 

HOWARD PEASE 



METHUEN & CO. 

36 ESSEX STREET, W.C. 

LONDON 

1899 






TO 

EARL GREY 

EVER KEENLY INTERESTED IN WHATEVER 

CONCERNS HIS NATIVE COUNTY 

THESE SKETCHES OF NORTHUMBRIAN CHARACTER 

ARE DEDICATED BY THE AUTHOR 



845595 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

NORTHUMBERLAND - - - - - I 

' A LONG MAIN ' - - - - - "7 

THE squire's last RIDE - - - - 29 

A l'outrance - - - - - 41 

• t'owd squire ' - - - - - 59 

an * AMMYTOOR ' DETECTIVE - - "79 

' IN MEMORIOv'm ' - - - - - 109 

'THE heckler' upon WOMENFOLK - - 121 
THE 'CALEB JAY ' ----- 133 

GEORDIE ARMSTRONG ' THE JESU-YTE ' - - 147 

* GEORDIE RIDE-THE-STANG ' - - - 1 65 
YANKEE BILL AND QUAKER JOHN - - - 187 
THE PROT^G^ .... - 209 
THE SPANISH DOUBLOON - - ■ - 24-3 



The tales that go to make up this small volume have already 
appeared in print : the first part of the Introduction, ' A Long 
Main,' ' In Memoriov'm,' in the National Observer : ' The Prot^g^,' 
in the Queen; 'Quaker John and Yankee Bill,' ' T'Owd Squire,' 
'An Ammytoor Detective,' in the Newcastle C our ant ; 'A 
rOutrance,' in \ht. Newcastle Weekly Chronicle ; and the remain- 
ing six in the Newcastle Daily Leader. I desire to tender my 
thanks herewith to the various editors concerned. 



TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 



NORTHUMBERLAND 

T T is generally admitted that your North- 
-*- umbrian pre-eminently possesses the 
quality which the pious but worldly Scotch- 
man was used to pray for, namely, 'a guid 
conceit o' hissel'.' 

It is the more unfortunate, therefore, that 
of late years a considerable landslip should 
have taken place in the ground whereon his 
reputation rested. 

The local poet no longer hymns the 
'Champions o' Tyneside,' for Chambers and 
Renforth and other heroes have long since 
departed, leaving 'no issue.' 
I 



2 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

Advancing civilization, again, has, it is to 
be feared, made havoc of the proud insularity 
of the Northumbrian squirearchy. No longer 
are they content, like the Osbaldistones of 
yore, to devote themselves to cellar and 
stable, to stay at home, contemptuous of 
London and its politics, of travel and of new 
ideas. 'Markham's Farriery' and the 'Guide 
to Heraldry ' have lost their pristine charm, 
and the Northumbrian is, as a consequence, 
foregoing his ancient characteristics merely 
to become provincial. 

* Geordie Pitman' alone makes a stand 
against all modern innovation. Firm in his 
pele tower of ancient superiority, he is still 
convinced of the superiority of all things 
Northumbrian. 

' Champions ' may have died out elsewhere, 
and patriotism be decayed in the higher social 
ranks, but in the pit-village there still lingers 
an admirable quantity of the old self-love. 

In each separate village you may find some 
half-dozen self-styled ' champions ' who will 



NORTHUMBERLAND 3 

match themselves against 'any man in the 
world' for ^10 or ;C^5 a side at their own 
particular hobby or pastime. 

Defeat has little effect upon a * champion ' : 
like Antaeus, he picks himself up the stronger 
for a fall, and having advertised himself in 
the papers as ' not being satisfied ' with his 
beating, challenges another attempt forth- 
with. 

***** 

Now this self-satisfaction — though some- 
what decayed of late — is probably one of the 
oldest strains in the Northumbrian character, 
having been developed, doubtless, in the first 
instance, under stress of constant raid and 
foray, and but little affected thereafter — owing 
to the remoteness of the county both from the 
universities and from London — by the higher 
standards of softer and more civilized centres. 

After this, the next most predominant trait 

is a love of sport, for which the climate, 

together with the physical conformation of 

the county, may be held responsible ; for the 

I — 2 



4 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

open aspect of the plain, the crown of bare 
western hills, the wind-swept moorland and 
the sea, suggest a life of hard endurance and 
fatigue, the strenuous toil of the hunter, the 
keen excitements of the chase. 

Still, as of old, the wide and spreading 
grasslands try horse and rider with a tempt- 
ing challenge, as of one who cries, ' Come, 
who will tire first?' The music of the 
hounds sweeps down the brae : ' Yoi — yoi — 
yoi !' quivers the cry from the streaming 
pack. Onward the rider gallops, the plover 
perchance rising at his horse's heels, the long 
note of the curlew sounding in his ears, the 
breath of the west wind racing in his nostrils ; 
he may see on this side the purple bar of 
Cheviot, on the other the blue, flat line of 
the sea, and therewith — if ever in his life — 
may taste of the primeval joy of living — of 
the joy of the early hunter who lived with 
his horse as with a comrade, drew from the 
sea the ' sacred fish,' from the moorland the 
'winged fowl,' and knew not discontent. 



NORTHUMBERLAND 5 

The beauty of the southern counties is not 
to be met with here. 

The south is the well-dowered matron, the 
north a bare-headed gipsy-lass, freckled with 
sun and wind, who * fends ' for her living 
with strategies of hand and head. 

Still, in the northern blood, the heritage of 
the ' raid * and the ' foray ' abides, and still, 
as of old, are the children of the Borderland 
nursed by the keen wind of the moorland 
and the sea. ' Hard and heather- bred ' ran 
the ancient North-Tyne slogan ; ' hard and 
heather- bred — yet — yet — yet. ' 



'A LONG MAIN' 

' ^^ O you're a county family ?' I echoed, 
>J and, though it may have been im- 
polite, I could not forbear a smile, for never 
had I seen County Family so well disguised 
before. 

'Ay,' replied Geordie Crozier, 'I is,' and 
forthwith proceeded to search in the pocket 
of his pit-knickerbockers for his 'cutty.' He 
had just come up to ' bank ' from the ' fore- 
shift,' and was leaning on a waggon on the 
pit-heap, about to have a smoke before going 
home for a 'wesh,' dinner, and bed. 'The 
last ov us,' he continued, having lit his pipe, 
'that had Crozier Hall was grandfeythor — 
Jake Crozier, of Crozier Hall, was his name 
an' address, an' — an' — I's his relics.' 



8 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

I glanced at the ' relics ' afresh — six foot 
two If he was an Inch, and broad In propor- 
tion, a magnificent pair of arms — he was 
champion hewer at the colliery — with legs to 
match, though slightly bowed through the 
constant stooping underground. Under the 
mask of coal-dust his eyes gleamed like 
pearls, and a thrusting lower lip, backed by 
a square jaw, gave evidence of determination 
and the faculty of enjoyment. A short, well- 
trimmed beard put the hnlshing touch to 
'the Squire,' for so his friends styled him, 
half in jest. 

' Well, and how was it lost ?' said I. ' Was 
''cellar and stable," the good old Northum- 
brian motto, his epitaph ? Or did your 
grandfather take an even quicker road to the 
bailiffs?' 

' Grandfeythor was like us, I b'lieve ; he 
was a fine spender but an 111 saver, an' he 

had a h- ov a time till the mortgages 

gave oot, for he was a tarr'ble tasteful man 
— lasses, greyhounds, an' horses, racin', 



'A LONG MAIN' 9 

drinkin', cockin', an' card-playin' were aal 
hobbies ov his at one time or another, but 
what was warse than aal this put togither 
was that he never wud be beat. Everything 
he had must be the best, an' the fact that 
anythin' belonged to him was quite enough 
to prove to him it was the best o' the sort i' 
the county. Well, for a while as a young 
man things went well wi' him. He win the 
Plate* two years runnin', an' many was the 
cock-fight an' coursin' match he pulled off 
wiv his cocks an' his hounds ; but there was 
a chap came oot o' Aadcastle who was one 
too many for him at the finish. This chap 
had made a vast o' brass i' the toon at ship- 
buildin' or such like, an' bein' wishful to set 
hisself up as a big pot, had hired a big place 
next grandfeythor's i' the country. Well, 
grandfeythor couldn't abide him, for, bein' a 
red-hot Tory, he didn't believe i' one man 
bein' as good as another at aal, an' when, as 
happened shortlies, his neighbour's son came 
* Northumberland Plate, or Pitmen's Derby. 



10 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

sweetheartin' his daughter, he says, " No 
Crozier lass ever yet married a shopkeeper's 
son, an' they never shall as long as I'm 
above ground — orffice boys mun marry wi' 
orffice gals," says he. 

* Well, the lad's feythor was tarr'ble vext 
at this, an' he swears he'll have his revenge 
on the Squire — an' it wasn't long before he 
got his opportunity. 

' He'd set hissel' up as a sportin' man, ye 
ken, when he come to the country, an' wes 
tarr'ble keen o' shootin' wiv a gun, an' occa- 
sionally he meets grandfeythor at a shootin' 
party, an' always takes the opportunity to 
differ from him i' a polite sort o' way on 
every topic under the sun. 

' Well, after their dinners one day, grand- 
feythor, bein' fairly full up wi' beer, ye ken, 
begins sneering at all toon's folk settin' up 
as sportsmen. "It Stan's to reason," says 
he, '' if a man's forbears have never handled 
a gun, nor shot nowt mevvies^ but a hoody 

* ' Mevvies ' = maybe, perhaps. The true Northum- 
brian is in a threefold danger of betraying his origin : 



' A LONG MAIN ' ii 

crow or a seagull on a holiday, that the bairns 
canna shoot either, for it's bred an* born in a 
man — it's part o' his birthright, like a fam'ly 
jool," says he ; ''a heditary gift, the same as a 
proper knowledge o' horseflesh, fightin' cocks, 
greyhounds an' aal ; money won't buy it, an' 
it's no use argifyin' aboot it, for it's a fact, 
and the will o' Providence," says he. 

* Noo, when grandfeythor got on aboot 
Providence, most folks, I b'lieve, used to say 
nowt, but Smithson — that was the chap's 
name — he gies a sort o' tee-hee at this oot 
loud, which would be the same as if you or 
me were to say, '' It's just d d nonsense." 

' Well, there was a tarr'ble tow-row at this, 
grandfeythor as red as a bubbly-jock an' 
swearin' like a drunken fishwife, and Smithson 
as polite as a counter-jumper wiv his '' pardon 

phonetically, by the 'burr'; dialectically, by constant 
use of 'mevvies,' *wor' (our), and ' I's warned' (I 
warrant you) ; psychologically, by a perpetual readiness 
to back himself, his dog, or any of his belongings, against 
any other man's in the world, and for any amount, at a 
moment's notice. 



12 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

me's " and **pray be seated, sirs" — aal to no 
effect. 

' At the finish, when matters were quieted 
doon a bit, Smithson offers to back hissel' at 
a shootin' match wi' grandfeythor for ^i,ooo 
a side, an' also at a cockin' match — " a long 
main" it was to be — twenty battles at ^loo 
the "battle" and ^i,ooo the "main." 

' Well, aal the comp'ny thought it was just 
a bit swagger on the part o' Smithson, an' 
that when the time came he'd just cry off an' 
pay forfeit, for the match was to take place 
in three weeks' time, and never a cock had 
Smithson in his place ava, whereas grand- 
feythor, he had a rare breed, the best i' the 
county — mixed Rothbury an' Felton — an' the 
old Felton breed was the one the King o' 
England win his brass ower formerly. 

' The time comes, an' the comp'ny is aal 
assembled i' the cock - pit at Bridgeton, 
grandfeythor, full o' beans an' bounce, backin' 
hissel' like a prize-fighter, takin' snuff an' 
handin' roon' the box to his friends, an' sayin' 



'A LONG MAIN' 13 

noo an' again, '* Where's that dam' fellow 
Smithson ?" 

' Well, the clock on the old tower was 
just on the stroke of ten, when in saunters 
Smithson, cool as a ha'penny ice, an' behind 
him, in green and gold liv'ries, come ten 
flunkies each wi' two big bags behind his 
shoulder, an' in each bag a tarr'ble fine 
fightin' cock. 

' Where he'd gathered them nobody knew 
save old Ned Stevison — an ancient old cock- 
fighter o' Bridgeton, who loved cocks more 
than many a man his missus. *' The Moon- 
light Breed " he called them, but they had 
a strain of the famous old Lord Derby's 
breed i' them, and were blood uns to the 
bone. 

* Some half dozen were Stevison's own, 
but the remainder 'twas said he had stolen 
from awa doon Sooth for Smithson, an' any- 
ways " Captain Moonlight " was his nick- 
name ever afterwards. 

' Well, they weighs aal the cocks ; from six 



14 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

to six and a half pounds their weight was to 
be, an' the fight commences. 

' Bob Stevison fought Smithson's cocks 
for him, an' grandfeythor fought his own, 
kneeHn' doon on the cock-pit floor wiv his 
coat off so as to handle them the better. 

' The first two or three battles grand- 
feythor wins easy, Stevison using his warst 
cocks at the first, d'ye see, oot o' craft 
mevvies to get longer odds i' the bettin', so 
that at one time grandfeythor was five 
battles to two to the good ; a bit later it 
was eight all, an' the excitement was im- 
mense, bets flyin' aboot like snowflakes at 
Christmas. 

* Then Stevison oots wiv a beauty — a 
perfect picture it was ov a fighter ; eyes like 
a furnace at night, liftin' his legs like a Derby 
winner, wings an' tail clipped short — aal 
glossy wi' health an' shinin' like mahogany. 

' Stevison runs him up an' doon the floor 
to heat his blood, an' tweaks a feather doon 
from his rump — that was a clever trick he 



*A LONG MAIN' 15 

had, to madden his cock just before the start 
— an' holds him ready for the battle. 

' Then grandfeythor, he oots wiv his 
champion cock — '' Stingo," he called him — 
an old favouryte ov his, a gran' bird too, six 
years old, an' a little past his prime mevvies, 
though he'd never lost a battle in his life. 

' As soon as they sees each other " Stingo" 
gies a bit triumphant crow, an' leans forward 
from his master's hand to try an' nip hold o' 
the other wiv his beak. The other says 
nowt, just looks at him wi' fiery eyes red 
hot wi' murder, an' as soon as ever his feet 
touch the sawdust bends low, then springs 
straight for Stingo, drivin' wiv his spur o' 
shinin' steel right for his heart. 

' Just i' the nick o' time Stingo leaps i' the 
air to meet him; there's a ** click, click," 
** click, click," as o' daggers crossin', an' 
pantin' from the shock, doon sinks either bird 
to the ground. 

* Stevison's mouth was tremblin' like a 
bairn's as he took his favouryte up, for there 



i6 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

was blood on his lower breast feathers, but 
Stingo wasn't touched ava, an' grandfeythor, 
puffed oot wi' pride, claps a bit mair o' the 
fam'ly property on to his champion. 

* It was a bit lesson for the other cock ; he 
was just as determined as ever, but a bit 
quieter like ; round an' round Stingo he goes 
like a prize-fighter, clickin' in noo an' again 
as he thought he saw his openin', an' when 
they grappled tegither wi' their beaks, though 
his comb was almost torn in two, he ham- 
mered for Stingo's eye as a blacksmith 
hammers on his anvil. 

' After about fifteen minutes neither cock 
could stand straight ; at a distance you'd 
have said they was both as drunk as my 
lord ; both were drippin' blood ; Stingo had 
lost an' eye, an' neither o' t'other's were 
much use to him, bein' bunged up wi' bruised 
flesh. They staggered aboot here an' there ; 
knocked up against each other in a blind- 
man's " beg-pardin " sort o' way. Every noo 
and again the Moonlight cock would pull 



'A LONG MAIN' 17 

himself together, hop feebly into the air, an' 
strike wiv his spurs, but as often as not the 
air was all he hit, for, his eyesight bein' aal 
askew, he couldn't aim straight, an' doon he 
would flop on his tail end, coughin' an' 
choakin' wi' blood — powerless, yet mad to 
gan on fightin'. 

'At the finish he gets Stingo pinned up 
against the cockpit bars, an', thinkin' he has 
him noo, gies a feeble craw, lifts hissel' into 
the air, an' claps for his heart wiv his spurs. 

' There was a bit clash in the held-breath 
stillness of the place, then a tiny moan, an*, 
by Gox ! there was Moonlight lyin' flat on his 
back on the sawdust wiv one leg broke in two 
an' danglin' wiv its spur like a watch-chain on 
his breast. 

' Such a hullaballoo as there was, grand- 
feythor yellin' like an Injun! " Pick up yo'r 
bird," he cries, "he's a dead un !" for there 
was Stingo a-top o' Moonlight peckin' at 
what was left ov his head-piece like a black- 
bird at a snail. 



i8 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

' Stevison never moved, but his gills went 
flutterin' like those ov a dyin' fish ; he couldn't 
speak, but 1 b'lieve he was prayin' for his 
favouryte. 

* A minute passed, then Moonlight comes 
to ; he beats wiv his wings, struggles, 
crawls an inch or two, manages to shake off 
Stingo, then hoistin' hissel' up once again wiv 
his one leg an' wings slashes wiv his spur, and 
by the damn'dest luck lands it in Stingo's eye. 

' Doon in a motionless heap they falls, an' 
when they're separated Stingo's dead as a 
leg o' mutton. 

' The rest o' the comp'ny yells and shouts ; 
some says Moonlight's a dead un, too, an' it's 
a drawn battle, an' grandfeythor, he swears 
his bird can still fight, while Stevison, unable 
to find his voice, picks up Moonlight, an' 
finally claps a great kiss on to the middle ov 
his back, an' when he sets him doon again 
wiv a drop brandy in his mouth he sets up 
a feeble craw of defiance, plainly axin', " Who 
the deevil says Ts a dead un ?" 



'A LONG MAIN' 19 

* After that it was all up wi' grandfeythor ; 
the stuffin' seemed knocked oot o' him an' 
his cocks by the loss ov his favouryte, an' in 
the next battle another of his best birds had 
his heart squashed oot, like a ripe goose- 
berry, at the vary first encounter. 

' It was a black day that for grandfeythor, 
but, as I was sayin' at the start, he never gies 
in, an' he comforts hissel' wi' thinkin' he'd 
make matters square up an' a bit to spare by 
the shootin' match which was to follow in a 
fortnight's time. 

' Smithson had agreed to shoot off the 
match at Crozier Hall, for grandfeythor had 
aboot the best shootin' in the county at the 
time, an' there was one place famous for the 
grand shots ye got overhead between two 
woods planted on either side of a dene, ye ken. 

' There was stubbles an' beanfields usuallies 
beyond, an' the pheasants, when driven off, 
used to fly right across the haugh below over 
into the woods beyond— me v vies aboot two 
hundred yards awa. 
2 — 2 



20 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

* Well, the great day comes. A fine, 
sunshiny October day It was, wiv a bit o' 
wind from the west — the way the birds was 
to fly, ye ken, an' a tarr'ble big comp'ny was 
assembled to see grandfeythor gie **the 
furrinor " his gruel. 

' Grandfeythor was i' tremendous spirits 
that mornin', an' as full o' gob as a torkey- 
cock ; nothin' could hold him ; the world was 
a toy to him — like the geography chap* i' the 
bairns' books, ye ken — he felt sae tarr'ble 
strong an' healthy. *' Eyeball clear as a 
bairn's," says he, " hand steady as a rock, 
digestion a marvel," an' he pats hissel' on 
the stomach as pleased as Punch. 

' They tosses as to who shoots first, an' the 
coin comes doon for grandfeythor, an' mighty 
delighted he was to be the first to shoot. There 
wasn't much chance o' grandfeythor's bettin' 
as much as he wished for, for naebody thought 
Smithson had a chanst, but what he could get 
he gobbled up like a hungry trout — fearfu' 
* Atlas, presumably. 



'A LONG MAIN' 21 

odds they was — six to one on himself he had 
to lay, an' often a bit more. 

'The match was for ;^ 1,000 a side, a 
hundred shots each at the first hundred 
pheasants within shot, an' the referee to 
decide any disputed points. 

* Grandfeythor takes up his stand aboot 
thirty yards awa' from the wood's edge ; then 
the referee fires a pistol, the head-beater i' 
the wood above waves a white fiag, an' 
there's a dead stillness as though we were 
aal i' church prayin'. 

' There was a big clump o' fir-trees standin' 
right oot from the thick o' the wood's edge 
about fifty yards ofT mevvies, an' two o' the 
firs stood oot high above their fellows, an' 
that was where the pheasants always broke 
oot, whizzin' up like rockets as they came 
ower the top o' them, an' it was just at that 
point that grandfeythor had always nicked 
them clever — just as they cleared the rise of 
the topmost tree, ye ken, an' started on their 
level flight for the opposite side. If ye 



22 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

missed them i' front ye hadn't much chanst 
behind, for they swept awa' like lightnin' 
doon the wind before ye could get turned 
round. Well, aal was stillness as I said, 
when sudden there comes a far-away cry 
through the clear air — '' Cock forrard, cock 
forrard !" an' in another two seconds there 
comes a clap o' wings from above. Bang ! 
gans grandfeythor's gun, as a fine cock 

sweeps overhead. '' D !" says he, wiv 

a flush on his cheek ; for aal there was to 
show was some half-dozen tail feathers left 
twirlin', as if in mock'ry, forty yards in the 
air above him. 

* '* Cock forrard, cock forrard !" comes the 
cry again, an' grandfeythor grips a firmer 
stand wiv his feet, an' grasps his weapon a 
bit tighter than before. Bang, bang ! this 
time, an' the cock gies a frightful lurch as 
though about to fall headlong, but steadies 
hissel', rises a bit, an' wins over to the other 
side. 

***H !" yells grandfeythor, trembling 



'A LONG MAIN' 23 

wi' rage, an' stamps upon the ground. '* Cock 
forrard, cock forrard !" again comes the 
beater's cry, an' half a dozen come flightin' 
overhead at once. 

* Bang ! once again, an' grandfeythor wiv 
a groan flings his gun to the ground, for he 
had missed altogether that time. 

' ** I'm fair bewitched," he cries, and aal 
the while the pheasants were streamin' over- 
head. 

' He trembled aal over, an' we thought he 
was gannin' to have a fit, for his brow was 
damp wi' drops o' sweat, an' his eye wild an' 
glassy. '' Thoo damned fellow," he cries, 
glancing round at Smithson, an' takes a step 
towards him, '* thoo's cozened me somehow, 
thoo must have poisoned my beer !" he yells. 

' '' Steady, sir, for God's sake, steady !" 
says the keeper in his ear, an' offers him his 
gun again ready loaded for another shot, for 
aal the while the pheasants came liftin' above 
their heads. 

' Well, he takes it up again, looks at it an' 



24 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

feels as though he didn't recognise it, as 
though it had injured him somehow, an', 
trembHn' aal over, takes up a stand again. 
After a shot or two he kills one in beautiful 
style, an' gradually getting back a bit o' 
confidence he gets warmed up, an' at the 
finish he has seventy-five oot o' the hundred 
— oot o' the last twenty never missin' one. 

' And noo it was Smithson's turn. 

' He makes a splendid start, wipin' up the 
first fifteen birds wivvoot an error ; after 
that again the pheasants come wilder, an' 
gettin' flurried belike, he tailors them. Then 
he gets steadied once more, an' at the finish 
has ten cartridges left an' seventy birds doon. 

' A wunnerfu' chap for nerve he was, was 
Smithson ; the mair excitement the cooler 
he gets. 

' A hen pheasant comes sailin' awa' to the 
right some sixty yards off. 

' " In shot?" asked he, as though he were 
passin' the time o' day. 

* ** Shoot," cries the referee, an' ping, ping ! 



'A LONG MAIN' 25 

gans two cartridges, but he cannot stop her, 
she was ower far off, though she left a trail 
o' feathers ahint her. 

' He gets another fearfu' hard one to the 
left this time, an' it takes two cartridges to 
settle number seventy-one — six cartridges 
left an' five birds to bag. 

' Wow ! but the excitement was painfu', an' 
folks fell to bettin' i' quick whispers, " Two 
to one against Smithson," an' he takes it wiv 
a nod, smilin' if you please. 

' The next three he gets, then he misses a 
longish shot, two cartridges left an* two birds 
to knock doon. 

' Here they come — two cocks high together 
overhead — be-eauties ; suthin' seems wrang 
wi' trigger or cartridge, an' Smithson misses 
first barrel. 

' " I've won !" yells grandfeythor, an' tosses 
his cap i' the air. Bang ! says Smithson's 
second barrel, an' doon comes the two cock 
pheasants togither. The first had swerved, 
d'ye see, an' jostled up against the second, 



26 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

an' Smithson cops 'em both wiv his last 
cartridge an' wins on the post, seventy-six to 
seventy-five. Gox ! but it was the nearest 
touch an' go thing ever seen i' the North 
Countr)% I's warn'd, an' wi' that last cartridge 
bang gans Crozier Hall.' 

* Was there any trickery ?' I inquired ; ' had 
Smithson tampered with your grandfather's 
cartridges, for instance ?' 

' No, he'd not done that ; he couldn't ha' 
done that, but he had tricked grandfeythor a 
bit, though it wasn't found out till afterwards. 

' The way of it was this : Smithson was a 

d d clever feller, ye ken, an' knowin' as 

he did that grandfeythor had a wunnerfu' 
way o' pickin' off the pheasants just as they 
came over the topmost trees, he had sent two 
or three o' his men i' the night-time, an' had 
fixed up a young fir right on to the top o' the 
highest tree, so that Mr. Pheasant had to rise 
another six feet afore he cam' ower. 

* Well, this was just enough to put grand- 
feythor oot ov his reckonings, an' when he 



' A LONG MAIN ' 27 

misses the first one, as he'd never done 
before, he cannot make it oot, he went clean 
flustered, thought he must have had a stroke, 
an' swore he was bewitched, or poisoned, or 
such like. 

* It was a crool thing to do, but it wasn't 
exactly what ye could call a Jew's swindle — 
but, damn Smithson aal the same, I says ; 
for here's me, Geordie Crozier, left a po'r 
orphin i' the warld wi' none o' his fam'ly 
property to belang to him, 'cept two gifts — 
the yen for drinkin' an' t'other for gamblin', 
an it's damn Smithson, says I.' 



THE SQUIRE'S LAST RIDE 

AY, that's the priest, the CathoHc Priest,' 
said Eph Milburn, after a white- 
haired, cassock-clad old gentleman, who had 
nodded slightly in reply to my companion's 
greeting, had passed over the bridge and 
departed out of hearing. 

* He looks as if butter wouldn't melt in his 
mouth now,' continued Milburn, a long- 
legged, ruddy-bearded, hawk-eyed son of 
the moorlands, 'and aal his time nowadays 
he spends in his garden over his bees or his 
flowers, or thumbing his Mass-book in his 
library ; but it wasn't so once-a-day, not he, 
not when the old Squire was above ground, 
and he came up by to stop wiv him. 

' Ye'll have heard tell o' the old Squire an' 



30 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

aal his goin's on, I'll be bound? Ay, o' 
course, but there's one thing nobody kens o', 
not even Father Blenkinsop, and that's where 
the Squire's bones are lyin', for they never 
found his body, ye ken. 

* Squire Dally was the last o' the fam'ly 
that had lived in the old Pele Tower o' Dally 
from generation to generation, and he was 
the wildest o' a wild lot —riders an' reivers 
in the old times, canny hard fox-hunters, 
drinkers, an' gam'lers this century. They 
were bound to get through their property 
soon or late, an* the last Squire, Tom Dally 
o' Dally, he says, *' I leave my property tiv 
a South-countryman ? Not I, by Gad !" says 
he; ''why, damme, but Fll cheat him yet," 
an' sae he spends hissel' right an' left on any 
mortal thing he took a fancy for. 

* The Hall — which was an old Pele wi' 
two wings added, ye ken — an' a good bit o' 
the property, had gone before that. The 
last Squire's grandfeythor had got shot o' 
that, the mortgages on it bein' far ower 



THE SQUIRE'S LAST RIDE 31 

heavy to keep up ; but there was still a fair 
property left, an' a nice canny house that had 
once been a dower-house, an' was now a 
farm, an' that was where Squire Tom lived 
with his fighting-cocks, an' his hounds, an' 
his hawks an' aal. 

' His missus had died early, ye ken, an' 
that had been the ruin ov him, for she was 
a clivvor woman, wiv a turn o' management 
— ^just what ye would call good hands i' the 
matter ov a horse ; that was her faculty, an' 
she was a bonny-featured woman for-bye. 

* Ay, she could manage him fine. 

' There was a grand scene, 'twas always 
said, when he brings her home after their 
furrin' tower, an' one night, bein* merry wiv 
his bottle, he forgets hissel', an' swears at 
her before company. Up she gets swiftly, 
pale, but determined, an' leanin' a wee bit 
ower the table she speaks straight at him. 
** Tom," she says, ''you forget yourself; and 
until you apologize to me for your rudeness 
I'll sit no more at table wi' ye," an' oot she 



32 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

gans frae the dining-room, haughty as the ' 
Queen in Scripture, leavin' the Squire gapin' 
an' speechless, never havin' been treated that 
fashion before. 

* There was two or three other men wiv 
him dinin' that night, an' on they sat drinkin' 
steadily, the Squire in a towerin' temper aal 
the while, noo damnin' hissel', next cursin 
his neighbour, an' backin' his horses, an' 
hawks, an' hissel', wi' gun an' rod, against 
anyone, or the lot o' them together. 

' They tried to soothe him a bit, but the 
mair they tried the hotter he got, an' had the 
Pope hissel' been his visitor that night, 

Squire Tom would have d d him too, an' 

been glad o' the opportunity. After a bit 
mair snarlin', an' sneerin', an' snappin', he 
sits quiet for a while, then he glares round at 
his guest friends, an' he cries : 

' '' Ye're nowt better than a lot o' ' momenty 
morries,' " — meanin' skeletons, ye ken — "the 
wife's worth the whole boilin' o' ye, an' I'm 
d d if I don't apologize,'" an' he glared 



THE SQUIRE'S LAST RIDE 33 

round to see if anyone would dare laugh at 
him for't ; but no one spoke save a little 
fam'ly lawyer chap, up for the night frae the 
toon, an' he chirrups up an' he says, *' Qui* 
right, qui' right," he hiccoughs, an' the 
Squire glares right through him as he 
growls, " When I ask ye for an opinion I 
pay ye for't, but if ye advise me unasked 
again, Til fling ye oot at window," he 
says. 

' Sae oot he strides into the hall, an cries 
up the stairs : " Nell, my lass, Nell, ho- way 

doon, an' I'll apologize to ye, ay, d , I 

will," an' doon she comes, an' on tiv his 
knees he gans, an' she holds oot her hand, 
an' the Squire he kisses it like a lover. 

' Well, she manages him clivvor, but in 
her first child-bed she was taken ill, poor 
lady, an' dies vary shortly, leavin' him wiv a 
baby girl! 

' After that the Squire was never the same 
man again. He turned reckless, for what 
was the use ov '' a filly " to him, he says ; an' 
3 



34 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

havin' no son an' heir to live an' save for, he 
sets hlssel' to spend aal he can an' spite his 
next o' kin — a barrister chap in London toon, 
whom he hated for bein' no sportsman — "a 
priest-faced, pauper chap iv a black gown an' 
wig," he called him, an' no love was lost 
between the pair o' them. He was a good 
bit older than the Squire, an' had a largish 
fam'ly, the second son bein' none other than 
Father Blenkinsop — the priest that's just 
passed us by. 

* He was the only one the Squire could 
take up wi' at aal, an' as a boy he was often 
there for shootin', an' huntin', an' fishin', 
though his father liked ill his bein' there, for 
fear o' his gettin' into bad ways under the 
Squire's guidance, who was gettin' wilder an' 
wilder wiv every year that passed. He was 
just a boy then, was Father Blenkinsop, 
havin' left his schoolin', an' bein' aboot to 
gan tiv a college to be turned into a Jesu-yte, 
an' nowt pleased the Squire mair, after a long 
day's huntin' or hawkin', than to fill the lad 



THE SQUIRE'S LAST RIDE 35 

up wi' liquor an' sneer at religion, an' Mass, 
an' priests, an' aal. 

* " Chuck it, my boy, chuck it," he would 
say, clappin' him on the shoulder, as he 
passed the bottle about. ** Divv'nt put on 
the black petticoat ; ye're ower much ov a 
man for that. Ye can ride, an' ye can 
shoot, an' ye can look a gal i' the face, an' 
ye can crack a bottle, but if ye turn priest, 

ye'll neither be man nor woman, but a 

bad mixture o' both." 

' So he would talk o' nights, pourin' cot 
his ribaldries an' drinkin' doon his wine, yet 
never gettin' fair drunk ; for he had a marvel- 
lous stomach for liquor, had the Squire — no 
butt o' Malmsey wine could ever have 
drooned him, I's warn'd — an' the only way 
he betrayed himself was by gettin' a bit 
hotter i' the face an' fiercer i' his talk. 

'Well, one night he vexed his young 

cousin beyond bearin' — what wi' black- 

guardin' his father an' his mother, an' wi' 

one thing an' another — an' sudden the boy 

3—2 



36 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

leaps up — mevvies he was a little above 
hissel' wi' liquor that evenin' — an' he bangs 
wiv his fist on the table, an' he cries, " Look 
here, Cousin Tom, I'll stand it no longer, an' 
to prove I'm no coward, I'll challenge ye to 
ride to the big Black Stone on Glowrorum 
Fell an' back across the Moor this very 
night." 

* " Done wi' ye, lad, done wi' ye !" shouts 
the Squire, bangin' wiv his fist in his turn, 
**an' I'll tell ye what the stakes shall be. If 
I win, you chuck the Jesu-yte business an' 
come an' live wi' me, an' if you win, you can 
take your pick o' the horses i' my stable. 
Agreed .?" 

' " Ay !" shouted the boy recklessly ; " done 
wi ye. 

' Fifteen minutes after this the two o' them 
starts off with a wild hallo up the brae side, 
an' so across the Moor, the Squire " yoickin' " 
an' ** tally-hooin' " as he went. 

' The Moor was mevvies aboot two miles 
across — an' a tarr'ble bad place for hard 



THE SQUIRE'S LAST RIDE 37 

gallopin', for there was a stone wall or two 
i' the middle o't, bogs to the left hand, an' 
some old workin's — pit-shafts or the like — 
to the right. 

'So right across Towlerhirst Moor they 
galloped — hell-to-leather — the Squire to the 
right an' the boy to the left. 

* Tom Brewis, the old herd up at Windy- 
neuk, happened to be passin' along the sheep- 
track that leads by the Moor edge that night, 
an' hearin' the sound ov a horse gallopin', an' 
a lively hollerin' as tho' to a pack o' hounds, 
he comes across a bit to find oot what it 
might be. 

' It was a dampish, daggyish sort o' night, 
but at times there was a drift o' moonlight, 
an' in one o' thae glimpses he caught a sight 
ov a dark figure on horseback, aboot two 
hundred yards from him, try in' to jump a 
big black horse across one o' thae open 
shafts. " You won't, won't you ? Then 

d ye, ye black de il, ye shall !" an' 

clappin' his spurs deep into his sides, an' 



38 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

layin' his huntin' crop aboot his ears, he 
forced him some paces backward an' sent 
him at it again. 

' It was a big black stallion he was ridin' — 
a fiery-tempered brute, a proper match for 
the Squire — an' up he reared on end, fightin' 
him, shriekin' wi' pain an' rage ; but he 
couldn't get shot ov his rider, so wiv a 
sudden bound he starts forward an' tries to 
clear the shaft wiv one great leap. 

' Just at that moment the moonlight faded, 
an' Tom Brewis couldn't tell exactly what 
happened, but he saw a dark mass leapin', 
he heard a rattle o' stones, then a heavy thud 
deep down somewhere, a sort o' splash, an' 
aal was still. 

' Tom stands there aal a-gliff wi' terror, 
half dazed, not kennin' whether he can have 
seen or heard aright ; then, pullin' hissel' 
together, walks slowly thither to see if any 
trace can be seen of horse or rider. 

* But there wasn't a one — neither o' horse 
nor Squire — nowt but a tramplin' o' horse's 



THE SQUIRE'S LAST RIDE 39 

hoofs an' a white gash as o' a half horse-shoe 
on a big boulder o' rock two feet below the 
surface t'other side. Sae Tom gans slowly- 
back, an' doon to the Squire's house to find 
if he can hear anything ov him doon there ; 
for he half hoped it might be a sort o' dream 
after aal. 

' Just as he gets to the door a figure comes 
up the drive leadin' to the house, draggin' 
a lame horse after him, an' "Ha' ye seen 
anything o' the Squire ?" it shouts at him. 
" No-o," says Tom, startled-like, "that was 
just what I was comin' to ask for myself ;" 
an' he peers through the shadows to see who 
his questioner could be, an' recognises Master 
Fred, the Squire's cousin, bleedin' frae a 
wound i' the head, an" leadin' a horse wi' two 
fearfu' broken knees. 

' He win his wager,' concluded my com- 
panion slowly, ' but after that ride he was 
never the lad he had been before, an' perhaps 
it's scarcely likely that he should be, I'm 
thinkin'.' 



A L'OUTRANCE 

WE were standing on the fencing-room 
floor — Jake Carruthers and I — lean- 
ing our backs against the armoury, our foils 
still in our hands, slowly recovering our 
breath, after a rapier and dagger contest 
which had lasted a good half-hour. 

He was much less ' winded ' than myself, 
for all his sixty-five years ; and as I had 
positively worn myself out against his iron 
wrist I was delighted to gain a breathing 
space, and occupied the time in drawing out 
from my companion some old-time memories 
of the fencing floor. 

* Have you ever seen a duel ?' I inquired. 
• I don't mean a semi-drunken, nose-chop- 
ping bout, or a garden-party affair, with 



42 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

coffee and liqueurs, as in France, but a 
genuine " throat -cutting, blood-letting " 
matter, such as Porthos or D'Artagnan 
would have loved ?' 

'No,' replied Jake reflectively, drawing the 
length of his foil lovingly along the soft sleeve 
of his jacket ; " the time's past, I doubt, for 
that sort of performance. The Divorce 
Court is what '' my lord " appeals to nowa- 
days for *' satisfaction," and Trimmer Joe or 
Bricklayer Tom, they just "bash" the tres- 
passer upon their family preserves on the 
head, and there's an end on't. 

' The cleverest, best-fought fight I ever 
saw — and I believe there was a bit some- 
thing of what you're meanin' in it — was, 
strange to say, twixt a man and a woman — 
leastways, a gentleman an' a lady. It was 
a fair battle, proper fightin' on her side ; for 
she was sworn to win, and sair wishful to 
punish him, I's warn'd ; and he, though he 
was tarr'ble keen to win too, found it took 
him all his time to keep her from letting 



A L'OUTRANCE 43 

daylight into him— an', by the way, this is 
the varra tale ye used always to be askin' 
for, an' I'll tell it ye noo, for ye've improved 
i' your fencin', I'm thinkin', since ye began. 
You'll have heard tell of Squire Bennington 
of Bennington Hall ? A great rider he was 
once, and a sportsman generally — ''Jockey 
Jack " his own private friends called him, and 
his horse, " Pit Laddie" — ye'll heard of him ? 
— won the '* Plate" some thirty years back. 

' Well, his lady, Mrs. Bennington, was 
just the proudest woman in the whole county 
of Northumberland — scarcely what ye would 
call '' bonny," but just tarr'ble handsome, and 
the Squire, he fair worships her. He had 
married her in Berlin, and there was some 
queer odds an' ends o' stories about her, but 
he'd never have hearkened to the many more 
than he would listen to anyone shoutin' to 
him the way to go out hunting. 

* He was in the army at that time, ye ken 
— the Northumberland Fusiliers, " The Old 
and Bold," with '' Where the Fates calls ye" 



44 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

in Latin for their motto — and I was his man- 
servant, joining the army along of him, as my 
forbears had often done with his forbears 
beforetime. 

* The Squire had to go out to Berlin with 
his mother, and he gets leave for me to 
accompany him, and there it was that he 
met with his lady that was to be — Miss 
Maxwell as she was then. 

* She was the handsomest woman in Berlin, 
'twas said, but quite poor, living as a com- 
panion with the wife of one of the Ambas- 
sador's party, being a kind of cousin, and 
many were the stories about her. 

' Gossip said that one of them grand dukes 
with a name a yard long had wanted her for 
his mistress, but when he made his proposi- 
tion he got such an answer that he never 
dared speak to her again. Then it was 
reported that she was engaged to the Ambas- 
sador's chief secretary, Oxencourt his name 
was — Sir Henry Oxencourt as he is nov/ — and 
that she had even run away with him, but 



A L'OUTRANCE 45 

that at the last moment he turned round and 
said that he couldn't afford to marry her till 
his father died, so there and then she leaves 
him, walks the night through till she can 
get a conveyance, and arrives just in time to 
stay the mouth of scandal from ruining her 
reputation. 

'Well, the Squire meets her, falls desper- 
ately into love — for he cares nothing for 
gossips — and in three weeks' time she accepts 
him for good and all. 

' They marries at once, and travel for a 
year or more, and finally settle down at 
Bennington Hall. 

* The Squire after a bit sends for me, buys 
my discharge, makes me his body-servant, and 
sets up the old banqueting-room as a fencing 
hall — for he was always tarr'ble keen at 
fencing, boxing, single-stick, and all manly 
sports — and it was part of my duty to give 
them both a turn of fencing most mornings 
of the week. 

' Well, one winter, after about three years 



46 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

of marriage, the Squire goes off to Algeria 
to shoot gazelle, leaving Mrs. Dennlngton 
and his sister behind at the Hall, and he 
hadn't been gone more than a week before 
Sir Henry Oxencourt turns up at the Hall. 

' Well, when I see him there, I was fair 
dismayed, for I kenned nicely there was but 
one thing he could be wantin', for his repute 
in the matter of women was notorious. For- 
bye that ancient gossip at Berlin had always 
reported that he had been mad at missing 
his chance with her, and had sworn he would 
win her back again — get her a divorce and 
marry her himself at the finish. 

' His father had died since then, and he 
was now a rich man, and as handsome and 
masterful a man as ever I saw In my life. 

* Well, he comes and he courts her the 
live-long day, quiet-like and respectful, but 
never missing an opportunity, and she seems 
to enjoy his company. They go out hunting 
together ; she dares him to jump this and he 
dares her to jump that, and so the play goes 



A L'OUTRANCE 47 

on, and all the while I was fearing he was 
getting a fast hold upon her, for she liked 
power and was tarr'ble ambitious, and Sir 
Henry, they said, might have been one of 
the cleverest diplomatists in the world if he 
could but have kept clear of women. 

' It was easy to see that he was just mad 
keen for her, but I was not so sure after a 
bit that she was so keen for him. It seemed 
to me she was leading him on, and leading 
him on, but with what purpose I couldn't 
guess. 

* Well, one afternoon she comes to me and 
she says, off-hand like, '* Sir Henry Oxen- 
court would like to show me some new tricks 
of fence he has learnt abroad ; kindly see that 
the fencing-room is in order to-night, and, 
by the way, I want to show him the pair of 
duelling rapiers, with the silver foxes on the 
hilts, that Mr. Dennlngton Is so fond of." 

* Well, all afternoon I wondered what It 
meant ; for though her manner was cool 
enough, there was something curious about 



48 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

my mistress's expression as she gave her 
orders. 

'"If possible," I thinks to myself, "I'll have 
a peep also at Sir Henry's tricks to-night," and 
as I polished up the rapiers that afternoon I 
thought of the story the Squire used to tell 
of them. One of them had a stain on the 
"foible" which would not come out for any 
quantity of rubbing — it was the blood, the 
Squire said, of a certain " Black Rutherford," 
who had made love to the then Lady Ben- 
nington when her Knight was away fighting 
for King Charlie. Sir John comes back, 
having heard about it, but says nothing, and 
asks him to dinner ; they have a game of 
cards after ; Sir John accuses him of cheat- 
ing, and there and then in the banqueting- 
hall they have a set-to with their rapiers 
before my lady's eyes ; in five minutes Sir 
John disarms him, and before the rapier 
touches the floor, runs him clean through the 
right lung and out below the shoulder-blade. 
' Well, after taking in coffee that evening, 



A L'OUTRANCE 49 

I went to the fencing-room, and on the 
pretence of looking after the fire, mending 
jackets, straightening masks, and so forth, 
stayed on there till about ten o'clock, when 
in comes Mrs. Dennington, followed by Sir 
Henry. 

* She gives a sort of start when she sees 
me, then she says curtly, "You needn't stay, 
Carruthers," and walks past me into the 
middle of the room. 

' Well, I felt bound ^o see that fencing, 
whatever it might be, and the only way I 
could manage it was to go round and up to 
the old musicians' gallery at the southern 
end. If I could open the door without 
attracting notice, I might then lie down at 
full length and see pretty well what was 
going on below. 

' It took me the best part of five minutes 
to open the door and squeeze through, and 
when I had crawled to the ledge and looked 
over, the two combatants were just about to 
begin. 

4 



50 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

* *' Put the letters on the mantelpiece," I 
could hear her say with a curiously strung 
tone to her voice, and Sir Henry bowed in 
a mocking sort of way. Then he says 
slowly, after having walked to the chimney- 
piece and placed a packet on the shelf : 
''But it is not quite fair, of course, for you 
cannot see your stakes, whereas I — I have 
mine before my eyes at the end of my blade 
— the most beautiful stakes in Europe," and 
he bowed again to Madame with an air of 
gallantry and passion and arrogance all in one. 

* For reply the mistress only gave a quick 
nod with her head, nervous, impatient, like a 
racehorse that must be away. 

* I daren't do more than peep over now 
and again, for the lights were bright below, 
and I was afraid of being caught ; but I could 
see that she was in a state of great excite- 
ment, while he was cool in comparison with 
her, and wore a proud, triumphing sort of 
air, as of one who knows full well he has the 
victory in his grasp. 



A L'OUTRANCE 51 

' They walk to the centre of the hall and 
take their stands. They " take length," and 
then salute — she, swiftly, nervously, he in a 
foreign, bravado sort of fashion. 

'"First blood," says Sir Henry, *'and the 
stakes are won," saluting once again in a 
vainglorious way he had. 

* " Yes, but not for a scratch," replies my 
lady swiftly. Then they cross rapiers, and 
the play begins. 

* My sangs ! but it wasn't a play at all, it 
was a reg'ler battle, a fair duello, and it was 
all Sir Henry could do to hold his own. 
They had engaged in ''quatre," and no 
sooner had blades touched than she dis- 
engages and feints in *' tierce"; then, with 
an amazing swiftness, she disengages again, 
and lunges full at him in '' sixte " ; carelessly 
he parries with ''sixte," and in a flash she 
disengages again, " beats " his blade down- 
wards, and, for all but a biscuit, has him 
disarmed. He loses hold of his weapon, 
his fingers slipping from the quillons, but 

4—2 



52 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

catches it in mid-air before it drops, leaps 
back a yard, parrying another lunge clever 
with his left hand as he does so. 

* '' 'Tis a dirty Italian trick ye have learnt ! 
they haven't improved ye abroad !" my lady 
sneers at him. 

' Now, had she been but one flash of an 
eye quicker with her lunge after the ''beat," 
she'd have had him in *'quatre" nicely, but 
she hadn't thought she could disarm him so 
easy, and she just missed her chance. Sir 
Henry, though, had had his lesson ; he drops 
his careless, tempting manner, such as a 
professor tries a beginner with, and fights 
cooler and more careful, chucking his bravado 
airs, for it's dead in earnest she is, and no 
mere stage-play for the gallery. 

' On she comes again like a tigress, evi- 
dently trying to " rush " him, and back and 
back she presses him till the pair o' them's 
right under the gallery where I was lying. 
I had my head right through the bars by 
that time, I was so keen to see the fight, 



A L'OUTRANCE 53 

and it was only by stuffing my handkerchief 
Into my mouth, that I could stop myself from 
shouting advice and encouragement to her, 
she fought so desperate keen and with such 
a wild-cat pluck. 

' It wasn't exactly scientific, her fencing, 
It was too rash and all-for-vlctory straight 
away, but it was grand to see her flashing 
her rapier In and out, flickering like a 
serpent's tongue, and all the while her 
graceful limbs moved softly, swiftly, like a 
panther's, beneath her silken evening dress. 

' Once Sir Henry's foot slipped, and In 
she comes like a knife, and he only escapes 
by adopting another Italian trick — that of 
dropping with the left hand to the floor. 
She still presses him harder than ever, and 
I could hear her breathing hotly, "heck, 
heck," like an angered hawk. Then swift 
he "binds" with her, but he does It over- 
viclously and pays for It, for she's agile as a 
cat, and freeing herself with a leap backward, 
suddenly with a lightning-like "cut-over" 



54 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

touches him on the sword arm, and though 
he wouldn't acknowledge it, I knew she'd 
pricked him, and I could tell that it had 
roused him to anger in his turn. "You 
she-devil !" I heard him hiss between his 
teeth, and now he turned to the offensive 
himself. 

' He was at a disadvantage, though, for 
he didn't want to hurt her badly, being a 
woman, so he tries to disarm her, and give 
her some slight wound on the sword arm, or 
high In "quatre" or "tierce." 

* That was no good, as I could have told 
him nicely, for she had the strongest and 
supplest wrist of any woman ever I saw, and 
forbye that, disarming can only be done by 
taking your opponent unawares, and she 
kenned nicely what he was after. 

' Then sudden he gies It up, seeing the 
uselessness o't, and tries a brute strength 
game, waits his chance till he can lift up her 
blade, and then thrusts sideways so as to 
pink her high in the shoulder, but she twists 



A L'OUTRANCE 55 

aside and it only just touches her through 
the sleeve. '* First blood !" he shouts 
triumphantly, "the stakes are mine," with 
a low bow and a sweep o' the sword arm. 
**Phit!" she cries passionately; ''it's only a 
scratch," and she comes again at him with a 
bound. 

' Then he loses his temper a bit, I think, 
for his own sword arm was bleeding, as I 
knew well, for I saw a drop or two of blood 
on the floor and his hand was crimson 
forbye. So he comes to meet her, quickly 
driving her back in turn, plying his rapier 
this way and that fiercely, just missing her 
by a hair's breadth to frighten her, till he 
could have her at his mercy, and then he 
tries a ** cut-over" in ** tierce," swift as a 
meteor, pressing his " fort " strongly against 
her " foible," and would have been home 
sure as fate had not his foot slipped on a 
drop of blood on the floor. Up flies his 
rapier idly — she with a sudden flip tosses it 
higher still, and with a leap, by Gox ! she 



56 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

ran him through in " seconde " — ^just above 
his right hip. 

' " Hurroo !" shouts I, through my handker- 
chief and all. "Clever, clever!" for it was 
splendidly done — scientific, exact, just per- 
fection. 

' There Sir Henry lay in a swoon upon 
the floor, for no doubt the pain and the 
shock together would be immense, while my 
mistress, she just takes one look at him, then 
wipes her rapier swift upon her handkerchief, 
takes up Sir Henry's also, and places them 
against the rack in the armoury, takes down 
two foils, throws one on the floor, breaks the 
other in two and flings the pieces down 
beside its fellow. Then swift as ever she 
goes to the mantelpiece, takes up the bundle 
of letters and chucks them into the fire. 

' She watches them burn for a moment, 
then presses the electric bell close by, and 
just as John the footman walks in at the 
door Sir Henry comes to himself, and lifts 
himself up on to his elbow off the floor. 

" Help Sir Henry Oxencourt up to his 



A L'OUTRANCE 57 

room," says she, cool as a cucumber, ''and 
tell Carruthers to attend to him, and to send 
for the doctor, If necessary. A foil broke as 
we fenced, and Sir Henry, I fear, has suffered 
through the accident." 

'John stares with an open mouth, but a 
peremptory " Don't you understand ?" from 
his mistress wakes him up, and he goes and 
helps Sir Henry up, who therewith slowly 
rises, and, resting one hand on John's 
shoulder, without one word limps away. 

' The door shuts, and Mistress Bennington 
turns slowly to the fire, her eyes glued to 
them letters burning blackly amongst the 
coals. As she watches she takes a cigarette 
from a box on the mantelshelf, lights it, and 
I heard her say to herself, " You fool !" then 
she smokes a puff or two and again she says, 
"You fool!" and therewith taps her foot 
smartly on the floor.' 

' But what do you think she meant by 
" fool " ?' I here interrupted. 

'Well,' replied Jake slowly, 'I've often 
asked myself that very question, and what I 



58 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

believe she meant was something o' this 
sort: "Fool not to take your chance — and 
such a chance ! — when you had it, and Fool 
again, for not knowing me better than to 
think that of me when 'twas too late." ' 

'And now one more question,' I said, for 
Jake was preluding with his weapon once 
again, evidently anxious to commence another 
bout. ' Did you ever tell the Squire i^' 

' No, not exactly,' replied he, * but I gave 
him a hint, and bank-notes wouldn't have 
bought that rapier after that, and there it 
still hangs in Dennington Hall in the 
armoury, I believe, though I haven't been 
there since the Squire died and I set up as 
a Maitre d'Armes in Oldcastle here. The 
mistress, though, she's still alive, but she 
never cared for Northumberland — "so dull," 
says she, and goes and diverts herself in 
London town. And now no more talk. 
Gardez-vous, M'sieur — en garde, s'il vous 
plait,' and with a smile he struck my foil 
upon the floor. 



'TOWD SQUIRE' 

* XT O, I never saw him, not the old 
-L ^ Squire — *'t*owd Squire," as they 
called him ; but grandfather, he was thick 
with him, bein* the oldest farmer in the dale 
an' pretty nigh a gentleman hisself in those 
days ; he was master of the 'ounds, d ye see, 
when they was a trencher-fed pack — that 
was before Squire Heron took them over to 
t' new kennels at The Ford. 

' Well, I done some pretty fair jumps 
myself at one time an' another in t' ring or 
steeple-chasin', but 'twas nowt to what he 
done, not even when a mare I was ridin' 
jumped over a wall an' fifteen feet into t' 
quarry t' other side. 

' There's a pretty tidy place at t' bottom o' 



6o TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

that field ' — pointing to a low-lying, marshy 
expanse on the left that rose at the end to a 
high bank — 'that he jumped one afternoon 
in cold blood which five out of six wouldn't 
have touched in warm, but at t' end of his 
time he was reckless — almost to touch on 
madness, so grandfather always said. But if 
ye'll bide here three minutes till I've seen the 
mare looked to properly I'll tell ye a tale of 
t' Squire — same as grandfather told it me.' 

So saying Jack Skelton cantered round to 
the farm, where he was now employed as 
horse-breaker and showyard rider, while I 
strolled down to view the leap at the end of 
the field till he was free to join me. I could 
see The Ford opposite to me as I walked 
along — a square keep flanked with castel- 
lated wings rising proudly amongst its trees 
beyond the winding river in a circle of fir- 
clad hills. 

' The old Squire's ' daughter lived there 
now with her husband, who had taken her 
name on his marriage, but they were child- 



*T'OWD SQUIRE' 6i 

less, and the ancient race of Herons seemed 
destined to become extinct. 

Arrived at the bank I saw a formidable 
gulf open below me, with a soft and rotten 
landing on the further side, some fourteen 
feet across, the space between oozy with 
marsh mud and choked drains. ' " All hope 
abandon ye who enter here," ' I quoted 
aloud, just as Jack Skelton came up to me. 

'Ay,' he chuckled, 'it would be a job for 
a contractor to get a horse an' man out o' 
that, an' after that I'll lay odds but the 
laundry-maid would give her notice. 

' It was a great big, seventeen hands horse 
he had that he jumped it with — an ugly devil 
to look at, light roan in colour, but up to any 
weight an' absolutely fearless. All ye had 
to do, as grandfather used to say, was to lay 
t' reins on his neck, and straight across 
country he'd go like a bird. 

' He hadn't always been such a fierce one 
to go, hadn't t' Squire, and what changed his 
temper was what I was goin' to tell ye. 



62 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

* There was a woman in it, d'ye see, an' 
that woman his wife. When first they was 
married no couple in broad Yorkshire was 
happier, as folk thought. She was a hand- 
some lass and clever at book-larnin' an' 
suchlike, ambitious, too, like the clever 
ones usually are ; but at first she was all for 
sport an' huntin', same as t'owd Squire, and 
where he went she mostly followed him, 
bein' as well mounted as himself. As for 
t'owd Squire, he was t' happiest man alive in 
those days — used to slap grandfather on t' 
back an' cry, after a steaming run, t' fox's 
mask in his hand ready to tie on to his 

missus's saddle, '' By , Skelton, but she's 

the straightest woman rider in England, 
whether in or out o' t' shires." 

* Yet for all that his happiness was short- 
lived, for after a son was born to him 
Mistress Heron seemed to lose heart for 
huntin' — her narves, she said, had gone 
wrong with her ; but grandfather always 
upheld that she'd grown tired of her 



'T'OWD SQUIRE' 63 

husband. She was a clever woman, as I 
said, an' ambitious ; an' 'twas reported that 
she'd been forced to marry wi' t'owd Squire 
by her mother in Lunnon town — he bein' as 
rich as " Creases " — whilst the man she 
really favoured hadn't a penny beyond what 
his wits might bring him in. For a bit the 
excitement of huntin' had been enough for 
her, an' spendin' t' Squire's brass, t' big 
house, an' t' novelty ; but after t' son was 
born she grew dissatisfied an' took a dislike 
to her life. Consequence was that she took 
up with a young man called Cunliffe, that 
lived over at The Tower — right away on 
that hillside over there, about two miles 
west of us — ye can see it against trees from 
Heronsford easy. 

* The place had been bought by his father, 
who made money in trade at Ironopolis, an' 
he'd just got himself elected into Parliament, 
an' was like to get on at it, 'twas said, bein' 
one of them ready-witted, oily-tongued chaps 
that never go quite straight, but gallop along 



64 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

t' roads an' sneak through gates, an' then 
swagger on at t' kill. Ay, there's none 
*'who-oops" an' ''tally-hos" louder than 
them. 

* T'owd Squire, on t'other hand, was one 
of t' owd-fashioned sort, and said what he 
meant always, an' clapped an oath on t' back 
of it ; hated Lunnon, an' Lunnon ways, lived 
for huntin' an shootin' an' country pursuits, 
an' drank a bottle of port wine reg'lar every 
evenin' to his own cheek. He wasn't over 
well educated neither, havin' all his life lived 
almost entirely at home ; no scholar savin' a 
vast knowledge of the stud-book, farriery, 
an' horse-breedin', which was a sort o' larnin' 
that Mistress Heron didn't care a button 
about. Well, things went gradually askew 
between the two, she always wantin' fresh 
company in t' house, an' him hatin' society 
ways like poison. 

' Amongst others she took up with was 
this young Member o' Parliament, Cunliffe, 
an' often he would be over an' dinin' with 



'TOWD SQUIRE' 65 

them ; he could sing a bit, an' she was fond 
of t' piano, an' they would play on together 
in t' drawing-room while t' Squire sat over 
his mahog'ny passin' t' bottle round, talkin' 
over t' 'untin', layin' wagers with his own 
particular cronies of the red-faced, good- 
hearted, rough- tongued, fox-'untin' Yorkshire 
style. 

* Well, t'owd Squire couldn't stomach 
young Cunliffe at all ; for in the first place 
he was a poor rider to 'ounds, never jumped 
owt If he could help it, was a mean chap 
with his brass, an' had a supercilious way 
o' talk about him that angered t' Squire 
fearful. Add to this that he was always 
comin' over to sweetheart his missus, an' 
you can imagine how ill the two men would 
agree. 

' Well, one night they was sitting playin' 
cards after dinner, an' Mistress Heron was 
lookin' on at them. T' Squire was nowt of 
a scholar, as I said before, but he had a good 
head for cards, an' loved to take t' shekels 

5 



66 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

off young Cunliffe, who hated losin', but was 
generally the one who had to pay up. 

* It was a game they call PIckit they were 
playin' ; grandfather told me — for in after 
days t' Squire let out a good bit of his 
troubles to my grandfather, havin' been play- 
mates together, an' grandfather bein' a god- 
child o' t'owd Squire's father beside that — 
an' Cunliffe bein' flustered had forgot when 
it came to t' last two cards — there bein' a 
ticklish bit at stake — what had been played 
previously. 

* He looked this way and that, then all of 
a sudden he catches Mistress Heron's eye, 
sees something in it that tells him somewhat, 
claps doon t' right card an' wins. 

* T'owd Squire, he keeps extraordinary 
quiet, just gives one swift look round under 
his eyelids at his wife standin' there above 
him, an' says softly, " Ye've a wonderful 
memory, Mr. Cunliffe," says he, at which the 
other gets very red, an' begins to talk of 
getting home. 



T'OWD SQUIRE 67 

* " Mistress Heron and I," says t' Squire, 
"were talking on this afternoon about t' 
private steeplechase we're going to hold 
shortly in t' Park here, an' she was all for 
layin' out t' course for first two miles straight 
west till it almost touches Towers gates. ' It 
will just take inside of ten minutes from t' 
Ford,' says she, 'to Towers turn, and beauti- 
ful going all the way over grass with t' big 
jump an' t' black beck in t' middle of it.' 
*Ay,' says I, 'and that will stop one or 
two that I know of — I'll lay a monkey.' 
' Not a bit of it,' says she, 'not a bit; an' 
I'll take evens with ye that everybody 
tries it.' 

* ** Now, as Mistress Heron is going to 
ask ye to ride one of her nominations for her 
at the race, it might be helpful to ye to have 
a preliminary trial, an' as t' night is bright as 
day wi' moonlight, perhaps ye'd like a ride 
home to-night across country, an' I'll lay ye 
double of what ye've won to-night that ye 
don't get to your own gate-ends in, say, 

5—2 



68 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

twelve minutes from t' Ford's paddock. 
An' ye can have your pick o' what's in my 
stable," adds t' Squire, as he looks from one 
to t' other of them, *' while Mistress Heron 
an' I will watch ye from t' battlements an' 
take time for ye ; or, of course, if ye're 
afraid," he adds, as Cunliffe, hemming an' 
hawing, says something about '' not likin' to 
take a horse out at that time o' night," an' 
dwells heavy on the words, *' we can send ye 
home in the landau, like a lady," says t' 
Squire. 

' '' If Mr. Cunliffe accepts your proposal to 
ride a horse for me in the steeplechase," inter- 
rupts Mistress Heron scornfully, ''that is 
of itself sufficient to falsify your insinua- 
tion." 

' " I shall be only too proud," cries Cunliffe 
at once, with a bow, ''to ride for Mistress 
Heron." 

' "Ay," says t' Squire, "an t' night before 
a message will doubtless come to say that 
Mr. Cunliffe has suddenly been called away 



T'OWD SQUIRE 69 

on important political business, an' he's much 
grieved to forego a pleasure he had been so 
much looking forward to." 

**' You've said quite enough, sir," cries 
Cunliffe, red an' passionate; ** kindly have 
your horse saddled — t' light-roan one for 
choice ; for I take your wager an' will ride 
your horse home this night." 

'T' Squire goes out to t' stable himself, 
gives his orders, an' in fifteen minutes' time 
t' horse is round at t' door. 

* ** Ye'll be wantin' a switch likely," says t' 
Squire, as he shows him downstairs, ''an' if 
ye'll come into t' gun-room here, ye can take 
your pick o' crops, or cuttin' whips, or what 
ye will." 

' T' room was dark, an' Cunliffe, he bumps 
up against a small pail o' something an' upsets 
it on his trousers and all over t' floor before 
t' Squire gets a candle lighted. 

' *' Never mind, never mind that," says t 
Squire cheerily, "it's just nowt to matter ; it's 
just for to try my hounds with to-morrow, an 



70 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

shouldn't have been there. See, there's 
t' whip-stand ; take your choice," says he. 

' Cunllffe, he takes a cuttln' whip, an' jumps 
on t' horse without more ado, an' goes out 
into t' paddock with t' stud groom, who is 
to show him where to start from when t' 
Squire shouts "off" from the roof of the 
house. 

' A minute or two later t' Squire shows 
himself on t' battlements, and Mistress 
Heron's there too, to see the sport. 

* '' Are ye ready ?" rings out t' Squire's 
voice. 

' " Yes," comes back t' answer. 

' '' Then off!'* he shouts down and drops t' 
handkerchief. 

' Away he goes at a full gallop straight 
across t' wide - spreading west park-land, 
then draws rein a moment as he approaches 
t' haha with a drop of five feet or so, 
perhaps. Just as he pulls up there comes a 
faint " you-yowin'," as of hounds upon a 
scent, from around t' corner of t' house. 



T'OWD SQUIRE 71 

* *' Whatever's that ?' cries Mistress Heron 
quickly, as she catches the sound of it. 

* '' Why, it's t' hounds," cries t' Squire, with 
a stabbing laugh. " I thowt it might help 
him t' jump t' black beck an' v/in his wager 
to have t' hounds after him, an' so it will, for 
there's a bit aniseed sprinkled on Gamecock's 
fetlock bandages, an' Cunliffe's stepped into 
some himself." 

' ** 'Tis the deed of a savage !" says my 
lady, and with a proud contempt of him she 
steps away from his side as far as t' battle- 
ments will permit. 

* Away go t' hounds wi' riotous music hot 
upon t' scent ; on, forrard on they go, right 
over t' haha and up and across t' pasture 
beyond, at t' end of which, and beside t' 
beck, Cunliffe was galloping up an' down 
trying to find an easier place. It appears 
he hadn't, in his excitement, taken notice of 
t' hounds giving tongue, or looked behind 
him, but all of a sudden he perceives it, and 
halting his horse stockstill, looks behind him. 



72 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

Then It seemed to flash upon him what's up, 
and he forces back t' horse some twenty yards 
or so — first hounds racing towards him about 
hundred yards behind — rams in t' spurs, cuts 
him with t' whip, and claps him at it. Game- 
cock tries it bravely, and leaping high into 
the air just lands on t' further bank, but 
short a bit, and on t' soft edge, and pecks 
forward badly on his head, sending Cunliffe 
somersaulting over like a shot rabbit. 

'''T' bet's won!" shouts the Squire, marking 
t' horse pick himself up before his rider and 
gallop away by himself over t' far field ; '' t' 
damned cockney cannot ride at all." 

* ''Yes, you've won your bet," replies my 
lady, gathering her skirts together and hold- 
ing them close as she passes him by, *' but 
possibly you may have lost remembrance that 
you were born a gentleman," and with that 
she proudly turns her back and sweeps away 
down t' stairs. 

'Well, t' hounds couldn't get across t' 
beck, and t' Squire's first whip was ready 



T'OWD SQUIRE 73 

wi' t' horn to fetch them back again ; so 
Cunlifife was safe enough, but sorely damaged 
an' bruised, an' 'twas a full week before he 
left his house, when straight he goes abroad 
on foreign travel. 

* Things gradually went on from bad to 
worse twixt t' Squire and Mistress Heron 
after that night's play ; she used to lament 
for Lunnon an' its fashions, an' on t' last 
night of all she set t'owd Squire's blood 
blazin' by sneerin' at *' country yokels " and 
their drunken ways. 

*'*Why, damn t' !" cries he, quite 

forgetting himself, and using a word more 
suitable to t' kennels than t' drawing-room, 
** ain't we been here since King Alfred? 
An' what can ye want more than that ?" 

* Swift as fire she answers him, '' One 
might wish that they were gentlemen," says 
she, an' cold an' contemptuous she walks past 
him out of the drawing-room and up into her 
own room, where she orders her maid to 
pack up for her at once, an' 'tis but an hour 



74 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

later when she drives away in t' carriage an' 
never sees t'owd place again. 

' Well, they separate by law, an' shortly 
after, when t' bairn comes to live with his 
father, Mistress Heron gets much taken up 
with one of those father parsons, famous as 
a preacher in Lunnon at that time. 

' Finally, she goes into a sort of retirement 
and becomes head of a sisterhood shortly, 
which gets to be very famous for its Good 
Samaritan sort of deeds. 

' Grandfather used to say that whatever 
she took up she would be sworn to do better 
than anybody else. " Fox-'untin' she learnt 
clever in six months' time, an' if ye can larn 
that ye can larn owt," says he 

' As for t'owd Squire, he hunts harder 
than ever he had done before ; an' nowt, 
positively nowt, can stop him across country, 
nor liquor stagger him, so that many 
thought he was heartier an' happier than 
ever he had been before. 

' His son, as he grew up, was a bit trouble 



T'OWD SQUIRE 75 

to him, certainly, as he was a wild lad — just 
like himself, but with a touch of his mother's 
pride, so that it was just as well when he 
went into t' army an' was sent to t' Indies. 

* Well, time sped on, and t'owd Squire's 
hair was turnin' gray, when news came that 
his wife — Sister Eva, as they called her — 
had died suddenly in her retreat or con- 
vent. 

* Up goes t' Squire to Lunnon without a 
word, an' when the chief mourners — all of 
them ladies of t' sisterhood, in their white 
dresses — were liftin' up t' coffin ropes to 
carry it to t' graveside, an' ancient gentleman, 
clad in a queer, long, bottle-green tail-coat, 
with a high stock and beaver hat on t' back 
of his head, comes forward an' quietly takes 
hold of t' head ropes. 

' T' sisters remonstrate with him, and ask 
him who he is. '* Mesdames," says he, '' I 
was her unworthy husband," and he doffs 
his hat as he speaks, and without another 
word spoken helps to carry her to her grave. 



76 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

' 'Twas said that they were t' same clothes 
he had worn on his wedding-day. 

' It would be some months after this that 
my grandfather was dinin' with t'owd Squire, 
after t' opening meet of t' season. 

' '' Here's to fox-huntin' !" cries he, after 
t' cloth was removed ; an' a bit later he rises 
solemnly in his chair, an' he says, '' And here's 
to a saint in heaven !" an' as he drinks it down 
grandfather sees a tear tricklin' on his cheek. 

' Litde by litde he tells him all about t' 
quarrel and what had completed it : '' And 

she was right, by G !" cries t' Squire at 

the end of it, '' as she always was, though 
I was too proud to say so then ; and now 
it's too late, for she's a saint in heaven." 

' That was the only time he spoke of her ; 
but for all that, grandfather said it was clear 
that he was just broken-hearted, was t' poor 
owd Squire, even though five minutes after 
he was challenging him to ride for a fiver 
when 'ounds should find on t' morrow's 
mornin'. 



rOWD SQUIRE 77 

* T'owd Squire never went better in his 
life, they said, than he did that day ; but just 
at t' close of it his horse made a mistake 
over some timber, and he came a cropper in 
a ploughed field, with his horse on top of 
him, and had three of his ribs broken. 

' It was a baddish fall ; but though the 
doctors pulled him through he never got 
the better of it, and was taken away before 
t' season was out ; and he was glad to go, 
was poor owd Squire, for he said he believed 
she had forgiven him, but he couldn't rest 
till he knew for certain.' 



AN AMMYTOOR DETECTIVE 

TELL me about that mysterious affair 
of "Tom the Scholar," and Jack 
Jefferson's sudden death, and how you ran 
him to ground when suspicion had given up 
the chase. If all I have heard is true, you 
ought to have been at Bow Street, high up 
in the Criminal Investigation Department. 
Tell me,' I said again, 'how you came to 
play the part of amateur detective.' 

* There was nowt o' the ammytoor aboot 
it,' retorted 'the Heckler' with aggressive 
dignity, ' it was a proper perfessional bit o' 
wark, an' the pollis was fine put oot that they 
hadn't had a hand in it. Wey, there was 
Scott, wor pollis ; he came to us an' he says, 
''If ye had only tell 't me about it I could 



8o TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

hev made a job on 't," says he, "'stead o' 
lettln' him gan an' commit a fellor, d' y' see ?" 

' '* No," says I, '* I divvn't see ; it was him 
that done it, an' it was us as copped him, an' 
if I hadn't taken it intiv hand, wey, thoo 
would have still been usin' long words an' 
followin' up yor clue like an aad blind man 
followin efter his dog," says I, ''for I've no 
sort o' notion o' the pollis ; they nivvor finds 
out nowt for themselves, ye hev elwis ti tell 
them what it is ye want done, an' then at the 
finish gan an' do it yorsel'." 

'No, no ; the pollis is just what the lawyer 
chaps call "accessories efter the fac'" — 
meanin' they comes up ti ye when aal's ower 
an' done wi', like the bairns at the school- 
sports, each one expectin' a prize. 

'Well, as I was say in', I copped "Tom the 

Scholar" aal maa lane, an' I doot whether 

anyone else could hev done it but me. I 

had suspected him a while back, for he was 

a mistetched ''' chap, ye ken, one o' the sort 

* ' Mistetched ' = spoiled ; of ill habits. Cf. Chaucer's 
* tetch,' a spot. 



AN AMMYTOOR DETECTIVE 8i 

that has a bit grudge against everythin', an' 
vicious same as horses is sometimes, unfor- 
gettin', unforgivin' — ^just a nasty disagreeable 
beggor, ye ken. 

'He was a scholar, though — "Tom the 
Scholar " they called him — an' was aye busy 
wi' books, nivvor had his head oot o' them, 
whether at the Institute or at aad Mistress 
Swan's, where he lodged. 

' Efter a bit he takes up wi' courtin' Mary 
Straughan, her who got married on Jack 
Jefferson, an' I b'lieve she had a mind for 
him once, but not for long, for he frightened 
her biv his strange ways, an' a passionate 
way o' talk he had, an' she gave up walkin' 
wiv him an' took up wi' Jack instead — a 
south-country chap that had come frae York- 
shire — a big, burly, thick-headed sort o' chap, 
but tarr'ble good-natured. 

* Well, Tom, he takes it varry badly, an' 

just before they gets ''called" i' church he 

tarrifies Mary wi' vague threats as ti what'll 

happen if she dares ti wed wi' Jack. Noo, 

6 



82 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

Tom was a " spirritualist," ye ken, as weel 
as a scholar, an' he swears that the spirits 
forbade the match, an' would be properly 
savage if they was disobliged. 

' She was a narvious sort, was Mary, an' 
she tell't Jack ov't, an' Jack, he says, iv his 
queer clipp't Yorkshire way o' talk, " T' 

spirrits be d d!" says he; ''an' if that 

softy Tom comes interferin' 'twixt thoo an' 
me, I'll make him softier than ever," he says, 
shakin' a great big hairy fist that looked like 
a bullock's head. 

' Well, they gets theirsel's married 
wivoot askin' leave either o' the ''spirrits" 
or o' Tom, an' as nowt happened, an' Jack 
forbye was tarr'ble lucky iv his cavils * just 
efter his marriage, even Mary began ti 
laugh at the idea o' Tom an' his "spirrits" 
an' aal. 

* ' Cavil ' = the quarterly ballot amongst coal-hewers 
for their places down the pit. Seams differ greatly in 
quahty and depth of coal, and in ease of working. This 
is the miners' own rough-and-ready method of adjusting 
the inequalities. 



AN AMMYTOOR DETECTIVE 83 

* They was tarr'ble happy those two, an' I 
mind well hoo proud and triumphant-like 
Jack looked as he slapped us on the back 
one early summer mornin' as we went ti the 
pit on the fore-shift, for I was only a hewer 
then, same as himsel', an' not what I is now 
— checkweighman, an' half ov a magistrate 
as well, bein' vice - chairman o' wor lokil 
District Council* — an' he cries, " Geordie," 
he says, " Geordie, man, Ts that happy I can 
scarcely haud myself in. There's nowt I 
couldn't do. I could hew as much in one 
shift as any five men together in two ; I 
could lepp ower a hoos, I's that cobby. I 
could challenge wee Bob Aitchison, t' 
sprinter, to a quarter-mile, an' lay t' fort- 
night's wages that I'd best him too. I could 
sing, I b'lieve," he says, an' wiv a solemn 
voice on him he adds : " Ay, an' I could 
even put up a bit prayer — though I's not 
much ov a Churchman — almost as weel as 

* The chairman of a local District Council is ex-officio 
a magistrate. 

6 — 2 



84 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

t' priest himself. An' I'll tell thoo why. 
It's because Mary tells me that there's likely 
gawin' to be an addition to the fam'ly party 
sometime shortly. She's a rare well-bred un, 
too, is Mary, an' I'll lay it's twins." '' I'll gie 
ye the best o' luck," says I, ''but twins is 
tarr'ble expensive, for IVe tried 'em," says I. 
'' Man alive !" cries he, holdin' up his arm 
— a proper colossyum ov a limb — ** look at 
that. If that cannot win bread for a dozen 
o' twins, then a lighted candle cannot fire 
gas," says he. 

' He was a fine brave man,' continued ' the 
Heckler' slowly, 'an' I can see him still 
standin' on the heapstead, an' I mind hoo 
pleased he was that he could hear a lark 
singin' high I' the air ower held just as the 
sun peeped up before we went doon i' the 
cage that mornin' for the last time together 
— ^just as full o' life an' vigour he was as thoo 
is noo — but for all that it was the last time I 
saw him alive i' this world. 

' It was the vary next mornin' that he was 



AN AMMYTOOR DETECTIVE 85 

killed, but I wasn't doon the pit that day, for 
I had happened a bit accident the day before 
through a shot that went wrang on us, an' I 
was laid up i' bed for a week wiv a bandage 
ower my eyes. I bear the marks yet,' and 
he pointed to some small blue punctures, not 
unlike shot marks, that the gunpowder had 
left round about his left eyelid and cheekbone. 
* Aal I could hear was that he had been 
knocked doon biv a runaway galloway pony 
that a lad called Harry Nicholson used to 
drive. Harry, ye must ken, was a bit weak 
iv his intellectuals, hevin' been born iv an 
ower great hurry like before his bit intellect 
had had time ti ripen, through his mother's 
gettin' a gliff at an accident that had happened 
her man doon the pit. 

' Well, Harry was a driver, as I said, an' 
he an' the galloway was comin' doon an 
incline wiv a full tub, an' the galloway, hevin' 
bolted, dragged the tub off the lines, an' came 
blindly tearin' along this side an' that smash 
up IntI Jack as he rounded an awkward 



S6 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

corner. He was fearfu' knocked aboot when 
he was picked up, they said, his head bashed 
in bi the tub's wheels, an' there he lay, dead 
as mutton. 

' The crowner comes doon an' sits on the 
body, an' the jury bring it In " Death by 
mis'dventure " slap off, bein Iv a hurry likelies 
tl get oot for their dinners, an' there the 
whole thing would have ended wiv a buryin' 
an' a gettin' up mevvles ov a bit subscription 
fer his missus an' the bairn ; ay, that's hoo 
it would have ended up had It not been for 
"the Heckler." 

' I wasn't allowed oot by the doctor, sae I 
was just forced to think It oot aal maa lane 
— mevvles havin' my eyes blindfolded helped 
us a bit ; anyways, I lay there quiet I' bed 
an* found I could think it aal oot like Glad- 
stone ; ay, an' I tell thoo that Gladstone 
an' Horbert Spencor together cudn't have 
thought harder than I did at that period o' 
time, nor have pieced the puzzle together 
bettor than us. It sounds like a bit brag, 



AN AMMYTOOR DETECTIVE 87 

mevvies, but it Isn't, by Gox ! It's just the 
naked truth. 

' Well, there I lay between the sheets wi' 
my 'MInln's" on, detarmlned that If there had 
been any foul play nowt but death should 
stop us frae findin' it oot. First thing I does 
is tl get the wife tl ask Harry Nicholson In tl 
tea wiv us, so as tl hear aal aboot hoo it 
happened. 

' Well, efter he has been well filled oot wI' 
tea, an' spice loaf, an' jam an' aal, I gets him 
ti tell the whole story, an' then I axes him a 
few supernumerary questions. 

' " Thoo'll ken ' Tom the scholar ?' " I axes 
him — ''him that's a stoneman doon the pit, 
an' gans in for spiritualism an' sich like for 
his hobby an' pastime?" ^'Ay," he says, 
" I ken him nicely. Wey, I been at some 
ov his 'seeantlcs,' or whativvor it is he calls 
them, an' I have the makin' ov a fine ' mee- 
jum,'" he says, ''for I can parsonate folks ov 
aal kinds, males an' females, wivoot any dis- 
tinction o' sexes." 



88 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

' '* Ay !" says I, interruptin' him wiv a sort 
ov admlrin' surprise i' my tone o' voice, "can 
thoo, noo ? Wey, thoo's a clivvor one, that's 
what thoo is." 

* " Ay," says he, quite enlarged at the 
thought, "an' there's some folk says that I 
isn't quite right i' the head, but they couldn't 
parsonate Alexander the Great — him that 
the sword-dancers sing aboot — like as I can. 
Could they, noo ?" 

"'No," says I, ''not they. They're not 
scholars enough for that, an' mevvies they 
would be gliffed at it as week Dis thoo 
nivvor get a gliff at the spirits ?" I axes, 
careless like. 

'"Not while I's parsonating, I divvn't, 
but whiles when I's doon the pit I gets a 
gliff," says he ; " it's sae dark an' lonesome i' 
places." 

' " Dis Tom Ivvor try to make thoo par- 
sonate doon i' the pit .^" I axes him, " for 
Tom, bein' stoneman, '11 come across thoo at 
times drivin' yor galloway." 



AN AMMYTOOR DETECTIVE 89 

***Ay, I've seen him doon below," he 
says, "though he nivvor talked on aboot 
parsonating, but usuallies passes us by 
wivoot sayin' nowt, for Tom's a vary distant 
sort o' chap, thoo knaas." 

' '* But sometimes mevvies he would speak 
wi' thoo when he passed thoo, an' other folks 
wasn't aboot ? Did he ivvor talk on aboot 
the spirits ti thoo at all ? That day the 
galloway ran away, did he speak wi' thoo 
that mornin' ? Mevvies he did, laddie, an' 
mevvies he told thoo not ti speak aboot it 
lest the spirits wouldn't like it, or some 
such kind ov argument," says I, insinuatin 
it tiv him like one o' thae lawyer chaps iv 
a wig. 

'"Ay, he spoke tiv us that mornin', sure 
enough, sayin' as hoo he thought the spirits 
was vexed, for he had heard them callin' i' 
the pit itself through the darkness, an' he 
wanted ti knaa whether I had heard the 
voices same as himself or not. Well, I 
hadn't heard nowt, nor had nivvor thought 



90 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

aboot spirits bein' doon the pit, but I gets a 
bit gliffed myself at that, an' a bit later I 
ackshally heard them speakin' aloud — sure 
an' certain," says he. 

' " Did they gliff thoo just before the 
galloway ran away an' ran ower poor Jack 
Jefferson ?" says I. 

' " Ay," says he, "I got a gliff then, for I 
heard the spirits' voices shootin'* oot against 
us." 

**'Gox!" says I, "to think o' that, noo ! 
Wey, thoo gies us a gliff an' aal ; an' what 
dis thoo hear them say in' ?'' axes I. 

' '' ' Here's the parsonator,' they shoots 
out aloud, ' that calls us frae wor rest. Lepp 
oot upon him, an' torment him ! At him, 
Annexo !' or some such ootlandish name, 
— ' at him, spirits aal !' " 

' " Sae thoo starts awa' likelies wi' the 
galloway at a gallop, an' couldn't get him 
stopped on the incline ?" I axes him. 

* ' Shootin' ' (shouting). ' Shuttin',' on the other 
hand, would mean shooting, whereby quaint confusions 
have occasionally arisen. 



AN AMMYTOOR DETECTIVE 91 

* *' No, no, I was ower flay'd mysel' ti do 
owt ; but the galloway must have gotten a gliff 
at something. I mind I thought I saw a flash 
o' light just at the moment, an the galloway 
he couldn't abide a sudden light across his 
eyes, he was that narvious ; or mevvies it 
was the voice that gliffed him same as it did 
us ; anyways, awa' aff he goes wivvoot me, 
an' dashes aff doon the incline wiv us chasin' 
him an' shootin', ' Woa, woo-h, Paddie ; 
woo-ah, thoo daftie !' " 

' "An' hoo far behind him dis thoo think 
thoo was when he come to the corner where 
he ran inti poor Jack ? Did thoo see Jack 
theesel', or hear him shoot out as the 
galloway butted him ?" 

"'No," says he, " I nivvor seen him, an 
I wasn't far behind the galloway nowther, 
for as soon as the tub got awa frae the lines 
he couldn't travel vary fast, for it was loaded. 
Aal I could hear was the bumpity-bump o' 
the tub, then smash Inti the wall— smash- 
smash— an' a crash as the tub swung ower 



92 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

an' dragged the galloway wiv it. I can mind 
nae mair nor that, mistor," says he, at the 
end ov his tale, ''for I fell slap ower Jack 
Jefferson's body i' the darkness, an' pitchin' 
full upon my head was knocked senseless, till 
they come along an' picked us up. An' that's 
the whole story, Mister Carnaby," says he, 
"an' I've done wi' the spirits, an 'parson- 
atin', an' aal noo, for they're treacherous 
things, there's nae doot aboot it," says he. 

* Weel, that was aal I could get oot ov 
him, sae I gives him some sweeties an' lets 
him gan, biddin' him not let on that I'd axed 
him any questions, ye ken, an' efter that I 
lay i' bed thinkin' it aal ower an' makin' up 
a plan o' campaign for when " the Heckler " 
should be up an' aboot again. 

' Efter aboot another three days I was 
allowed oot by the doctor wiv a sort o' lamp- 
shade ower my eyelids, an' the next day bein' 
" pay Saturday," an' the pit idle, I detarmines 
within my ain mind tl gan doon maa lane an* 
hev a look round by myself; for it's no use 



AN AMMYTOOR DETECTIVE 93 

trustin' anyone else when ye've got a job o' 
that callbry iv hand, ye ken. 

* I kenned where the trajiddy had taken 
place, o' course, sae I detarmines ti gan ti 
the spot an' make a sarious of obsarvations. 
*' First place," I says ti myself, " there winnot 
be much change i' the surroundin's, for it's 
a new drift in by there that they are drivin', 
wi' ' Tom the Scholar ' an' his marrow, an' 
not many workin' ; an', secondly, it's damp 
there wi' the salt water oozin' in through the 
rock, sae that footmarks will have a good 
chance ti stand a bit." 

' Noo, " Scholar Tom " had a tarr'ble large 
footprint, ye ken, an' it was that I was i' 
search o', for I had my suspicions o' what 
might have happened, an' I was convinced 

that that d d, mistetched beggor was at 

the bottom o' poor Jack Jefferson's sudden 
endin' — ay, an' whenivvor I thought o' that 
fine, brave chap an' his bright face an' his 
happiness, I says ti myself, *' There'll be no 
rest nor pleasure nor nowt for ' the Heckler ' 



94 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

till the mystery's discovered ; an' it's yor job 
ti discover it," I says ti myself. 

' He was bound ti have been there, for, 
o' course, it was him as shooted out that 
nonsense at Harry that had gliffed him, an' 
dootless it was him that had flashed his 
davy i' the galloway's eyes. 

^ Jack, d'ye see, would have been lousin' 
off frae his wark an' walkin' doon the drift 
at that time when the galloway started off; 
but what beat me was that Jack couldn't hev 
got oot o' the way i' time, bein' fine an' 
active, grand at hearin' and seein', an' ne 
fool forbye that. 

* Noo, just when I had detarmined upon 
this i' maa mind a sort ov an inspiration 
takes us aal ov a sudden. *' Wey divvn't 
thoo take that driver lad alang wi' thoo ti 
show thoo exactly where the trajiddy hap- 
pened ?' it says tiv us just as thoo it was 
a real, genu-ine voice i' my inside. '' Sink 
me !" thinks I, '* it's a tarr'ble clivvor idea, 
an' sae I will." 



AN AMMYTOOR DETECTIVE 95 

* " Has thoo anything else ti add ti that, 
Inspiration?" I axes it, an' shortlies efter it 
says, '' Divvn't thoo trust ower much ti what 
Nicholson says, nor tell him o' yor plan 
beforehand, for he's i' Tom's power, an' 
tarrified ov him," it says again. 

* '' Gox !" thinks I, '' but this is the 
champion; wey, I's as good a spiritualist 
as Tom himself." 

' " There's one last question I must ax 
thoo," says I, for I hadn't properly thought 
beforehand o' the difficulty o' gannin' doon 
the pit on '' pay- Saturday," an' that is : *' Hoo 
i' the warld can us gan in-bye ? for thoo 
kens that naebody but the furnace-man, 
engine-man, an' horse-keeper gans doon that 
day, an' if anyone else wanted ti, wey, he 
would have ti get leave frae the manager, an' 
even then he would have ti have a deputy alang 
wiv him. Answer us this, Inspiration," says 
I, *' an' it's a dagger for thoo, Vs warned." 

* But, mevvies efter two minutes, it whis- 
pers back two words, *' drift," an' ''beer." 



96 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

' " Drift ?" I repeats, an' '' beer ?" An' 
then aal at onst I sees the implication, for 
I kenned the lodge-keeper at the head o' 
the drift nicelies, an', what's mair, I kenned 
what Sammy Cuthbertson, the local preacher, 
calls " the joint iv his harness " still better. 

' Sae I gans up tiv him quietly, an' I says 
tiv him, '' Geordy," says I, " hoo much o' 
the best beer will five bob procure iv an 
emergency ?" 

' " F'ive bob," says he, vary serious, "will 
buy aal but two gallons o' the best bitter, 
an' d the emergency," says he. 

' " Dis thoo prefer it i' bottles, or iv a 
greyhen, or iv a pail — an' aal at onst?" says 1. 

* " Bottles is no use," says he, ' wey, the 
corks alone will mevvies take a pint ti their- 
selves. Na, na, gie it ti me iv a pail for aal- 
roond drinkin'." 

' "Well," says I, "thoo shall have it Iv a 
pail if thoo'll just let us an' the lad here gan 
in doon by the drift for an hour ti investigate 
a private matter o' wor ain — just a visit ov 



AN AMMYTOOR DETECTIVE 97 

inspection. No harm done, nobody need 
ken, an' up again within the hour, I'll promise 
thoo that," says I. 

'Well, his face prolonged itself at that a 
bit. " But if it was kenned," says he, " I'd 
get my notice." 

'" Nobody will ken but us three," says I ; 
*' an', look thoo, thoo shall have the pail at 
yor dinner to-morrow forenoon," says I. 

' That did the business for him, I's warn'd, 
an' he promises ti oot wiv his key an' let us 
gan in by. Poor chap, though, he got his 
notice aal the same, though it wasn't my 
blame : it was because he was ower-greedy 
an' thought he could get another pailful oot 
o' somebody else later. 

'Well, I says nowt ti Nicholson aboot 
gannin' doon the pit till the vary mornin', 
and then I gans along an' catches ahaud on 
him, an' says, '' Ho-way,* thoo mun come 
along wiv us doon the pit, for I wants ti see 
the place o' the accident myself, an' I hev 
* Come along. 

7 



98 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

arranged aboot gannin' doon," I says. Well, 
he turns quite white at this, an' whines an' 
cries not ti gan ; but I was res'lute wiv him, 
an' tarr'fies him wiv a hint ov a gaol if he 
winnot come doon and show us aal I axes him. 

' Well, we went by the drift and straight 
doon ti the " Number 3, North," or ''Joan " 
district, as we call it worsels, an' there we 
gropes aboot the trolley-way, just at the 
corner where the accident must have taken 
place' an searched for footmarks. 

' The lad, ye ken, must just have started 
frae the putter's flat wiv a full tub, an' aboot 
thirty yards doon he must have been gliffed. 
Hereaboots, iv a fenced place, Tom must 
have waited on Jack's " loosin' off" frae his 
wark, an' another ten yards further on is 
where the galloway must have run awa' off 
frae the rails. I had it aal mapped oot ready 
i' my mind, an' it was just the details I had 
ti fit in wiv it. 

' There was mair tramplin' aboot than I had 
expected, what wi' the galloway's stumblin', 



AN AMMYTOOR DETECTIVE 99 

the tub ploughin' alang through the dirt, an 
the footprints o' the search-party that had 
come up ti the scene o' the casualty ; but for 
aal that, I could see here an' there the marks 
o' Tom's big shoes, wi' the extry broad 
plates at heel an' toes he used ti wear. 

* Mevvies it wasn't ower much ti see, but 
it heartened us up, for it conformed us i' wor 
opinions, especially the fact that wherever 
they was visible they was close in by the 
wall-side, as if he had been wishful ti hide 
himself as far as might be — a sort o' pre- 
sumptuous evidence against him, as the 
lawyers call it. 

' " I will have ti gan back ti bed again," 
I says ti myself, " ti think it aal oot properly, 
for though I haven't a doot about it myself, 
ril have ti convince aal thae thick-heads o' 
judges at my lord's 'Size* before I gets him 
properly convicted, sae I must have it aal 
pieced oot an' put together like a bairn's 
puzzle-map." 

* The Assizes. 
7—2 



TOO TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

* Well, we was slowly makin' wor way oot 
o' the passage when I hears something 
comin up-by, creak, creakin' as it came. 
Weel, I's no coward, I's warn'd, an FU face 
any man livin' that ye like ti mention, but I 
got a fair gliff at that, for I couldn't make 
oot what it might mean — Nicholson an' us 
bein' the only folk aboot doon there. *' Gox, 
it's Jack's ghost !" think I ti mysel iv a 
sudden sweat o' fear. Sae oot at once I 
turns my davy (lamp), an' the lad's, fearin' 
lest he might notice us, an' shrinks back inti 
the corner o' the wall as small as could be, 
with the lad tremblin' aal ower next us. 
Efter a bit I sees a wee glimmer o' light 
shakin' i' the darkness, then a shadow ov a 
man behind it, an' slowly, vary slowly, as if 
seekin' something, it mounts up the passage 
towards us. 

' '' Hist !" says I ti the lad iv a thick 
whisper, ''just smear your face an' hands 
ower wi' clarts, or the ghaist will cop us," I 
says, an' grabbin' a handful I clarts his face 



AN AMMYTOOR DETECTIVE loi 

an' hands Iv an Instant o' time ; then I 
scrapes up a handful for mysel' an' aal, but I' 
reachin' oot for a good fill o' clarts my 
hands struck up against a sort ov a heavy 
bar o' some specie or other. 

' I gled a bit haul at It, an' awa It comes 
up IntI my hands — a small, heavy, but handy 
bit ov Iron It was, mevvles about sixteen 
inches long, wiv a sort o' knob at the end o't. 

' " I'll have a look at thoo later," says I, 
an claps It IntI my pocket wl' the one hand, 
whiles I clarts my face wI' the other. Mean- 
time the creakin' thing was drawin' nigher 
an' nigher tlv us, but the light wIv It was 
tarr ble dim, an' I couldn't have given it a 
name. 

* On came the light an' the shadow, but 
the creakin' noise had stopped ; 'stead o' that 
there was a squelch, squelch, as ov a man 
steppin' In an' oot' o' mud. 

' It passed us blv a finger's breadth, an' I 
almost shouted aloud by way o' relief, for It 
was a real live flesh-an'-blood man, wiv a 



102 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

fouled davy, an' no ghost — for ghosts canna 
spit, I's warn'd. 

* " D thoo !" I was just aboot tl shoot 

at him, comin' flayin' folk i' that fashion. 

" Who Is thoo, thoo " when he stops short 

on a sudden, just round the corner above us, 
an' talks tlv himself oot loud. '' Ay, it'll be 
just aboot here," he muttered, "that It fell," 
and I could have let flee a yell o' delight that 
would have brought a fall o' stone doon, for 
it was no other voice than " Tom the 
Scholar's " hlmsel'. 

' *' Thoo b !" I says ti mysel', an' 

clenches my fist tight; *' thoo b ! but 

I's copped thoo noo." 

*''Tell ti me noo, Annexo," continues 
Tom, usin' the same furrin' sort o' talk as he 
had ti the lad ; " tell ti me noo where it lies 
— the weapon that freed my destined bride 
frae unlawful arms. I mun hev it back, for 

there's a d d chap I' wor village that 

they call 'the Heckler,'" he gans on, the 
impittent scoondrel that he was, '' a daft feller 



AN AMMYTOOR DETECTIVE 103 

that's mad aboot dogs an' sic' like nonsense, 
but he has his suspicions, an' mevvies might 
be dangerous, for he has been questionin' 
my meejum, Nicholson, the driver lad.' 
Speak then, Annexo, speak, my beauty. 
Where lies my trusty weapon ? Speak 
louder," says he again, impatient like, "for I 
canna hear i' the darkness." 

'Just on that instant I gets another 
inspiration i' my insides, an' wivvoot mair 
ado I whispers oot loud iv a fine, feminine, 
and superfluous voice : " Search ti the right 
hand a bit lower doon, canny man," says I, 
'* an' thoo'll find what thoo is wantin','' an I 
held oot my hand ready ti grasp his wi' when 
he stretched it oot. 

' ''Aha!" says he, quite gratified like, ''sae 
thoo has found a voice, has thoo ?" 

' It was nigh pitch darkness about us, for 
his davy had almost gane clean oot wi' the 
clogged wick, but I could feel his hands 
gropin' towards us, an' I says ti mysel', 
" Another foot, an' a murderer's copped !" 



I04 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

'His hands came hoverin' ower mine, for I 
could feei the wind o' them ; in another 
second he touches us, an', grabbin' ahaud ov 
him by way o' reply, I shouts oot, '' Ay, 
here's Annex-us, thoo b !" 

* The yell he let oot was fearfu', an', startin' 
back, he dragged his arm oot o' my grasp, 
an' then leaped forward iv a flash, ducked 
past us, an' awa off round the corner he fled, 
us efter him like the aad bitch* efter a 
started hare. 

* He had dropped his lamp, an' it was 
darker nor Hell itself, but I could hear him 
dashin' along i' front ov us at wondrous 
speed. Mad keen I was, as I tore efter him 
ower bits o' balk an' stone lyin' aboot doon 
the rolley-way, bended double sae as ti avoid 
the roof-beams. Bang up against a door I 
comes, shakin' mysel' intiv a jelly by the 
shock, but when I had it opened an' was 
through I could still catch the sound ov his 

* Viz., Bonnie Bella, a famous greyhound of ' the 
Heckler's.' 



AN AMMYTOOR DETECTIVE 105 

footfalls not far in front ov us. " He'll have 
come a big bat hissel' against the door," I 
thinks ti mysel' as I started off again, ''ay, 
an' bein' before us he'll have aal the obstacles 
ti contend wi' first ov aal. Huzza, ho-way !" 
an I tore efter him, a fair deevil for reckless- 
ness — makin' no doot he was for the main 
rolleyway, an' sae oot by the main drift by 
which we had entered the pit. 

' There came the thud ov another door, an' 
I gans a bit mair cautious like, fendin' wi' 
my hands i' front ov us. Shortlies efter I 
notices that the footfalls sounded fainter-like ; 
they seemed ti be comin' frae the left-hand 
side noo an' not i' front ov us. 

* Aal ov a sudden I minds mysel' ov a 
return air-way that would lead oot by the 
main drift. " Gox !" I thinks, " thoo's hit the 
mark, but where the openin' is I cannot 
mind, for it isn't travelled biv any one 
barrin' the deputies. He passed the door 
i' front ov us, but bi the sound he's ti 
the left hand ov us noo ;" sae I felt 



io6 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

along the wall till I comes tiv an open 
way. *' Ho- way," says I, mad ti think he 
might escape us efter aal, " ho- way, thoo'll 
get him yet !" 

' On, on I went at a reckless speed, ti make 
up for my bad turn, an' iv another minute I 
gied tongue like a foxhound, for I heard 
him pat, pattin' on i' front ov us. '' I's 
copped thoo !" I yelled through the darkness 
tiv him, ti tarr'fy him, for I heard him 
stumblin' amangst some loose props or gear 
o' some sort quite plainly, ''I's copped the 
murderer !" 

* Foot upon foot I gains on him ; I hears 
him pantin' just a yard or two i' front ov us. 
I grasps oot wi' my hands an' touches his 
shoulder, an' he yells wi' terror, givin' a leap 
like a hare, an' slips frae under my hands. 

' Doon, full length, doon I fell wiv a smash 
like a fall o' stone, half stunned, my head 
like a night o' stars. 

' Suddenly there comes a yell o' horror — 
then a thud, a clump, clump, an' a c-clush. 



AN AMMYTOOR DETECTIVE 107 

an' then stark silence, an' doon, right doon 
at the bottom ov a staple fifteen fathoms 
deep ten yards i' front ov us lay aal that 
was left o' the murderer copped, clean copped, 
by ''the Heckler.'" 



'IN MEMORIOV'M' 

AY, that's what 'tis,' replied * the Heckler' 
to my query, 'it's an *' in memoriov'm" 
— Latin, ye ken, meanin' in memory ov him. 
The words is alike, mevvies, but it's Latin 
language, I's warn'd, an' I howked it oot 
upon that headstone myself wiv a clasp- 
knife.' 

I knelt down upon the sandy dune and 
brushed aside the bents that nearly covered 
the squat gray stone with their long lashes, 
and eventually deciphered a straggling array 
of figures which for their illegibility would 
have enraptured an antiquary. 

' It was just below us/ continued ' the 
Heckler,' 'that I found his cap, an' thinkin' 
him drooned, an' him bein' a favour- yte wi' 



no TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

me, I just put up that bit stone for him an' 
carved his initials on it, an' the Latin, an' 
G. C, that's for us, " the Heckler," ye ken, 
his mark. But it was a false alarm efter aal, 
an' noo that Jim Hedley's a Right Hon. 
Lord Mayor oot iv Australle, I's warn'd but 
when he's put under the sod he'll hev a 
hearse an' four horses an' a proper musulyum' 
(mausoleum) ' tiv hisself.' 

* What made you think he was drowned ?^ 
I inquired. ' Did you think it a case of 
suicide ?' 

' Ay, o' course I did ; we aal did that, 
an' not wivvoot reasons,' responded 'the 
Heckler,' ' for he was full o' misery at that 
time, an' wanted ti get shot o' the whole lot 
ov it. Jim was a fine, tall, proper lad — 
"bonny Jim" the lasses called him — wun- 
nerfu' handy, too, iv aal sorts of ways, an' as 
for behaviour, wey, he could talk ti my lord 
as canny as tiv a pot-boy. 

* Well, wiv aal these gifts o' fortune it 
wasn't surprisin' he got hisself sweetheartin' 



'IN MEMORIOV'M' iii 

wiv a young, bonny, quiet - faced lassie, 
daughter ov aad Sheepshanks, the farmer, 
close in by the village. 

' It was a bit lift for Jim, for she had some 
brass, but aad Sheepshanks, he tries to forbid 
the " callins '" (banns) ' i' church ; *' for what's 
a pitman," says he, " that a farmer's daughter 
should marry on ? — a dirty-faced, drunken, 
dog-lovin', gamblin' chep," says he ; an' a lot 
o' gob o' that kind, ye ken, bein' a red-hot 
Tory wiv a lot o' Noah's-ark kind ov ideas 
iv his head. 

' The lassie didn't think that, though ; she 
just warshipped Jim, followin' him aboot wiv 
her eyes everywhere, just like the aad bitch ' 
(here he nodded towards the greyhound 
beside him) 'does "the Heckler." 

'Well, they marries an' has a bit fam'ly, 
an' Jim gans ahead quick; he was marrow ' 
(mate) ' wi' me as a hewer yence, an' then he 
becomes a deputy, an' bein' a great reader 
an' a gran' speaker, there was some talk o' 
makin' him wor Member o' Parlyment when 



112 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

he got a bit older. Well, it had aal been 
plain sailin' for Jim so far, an' every body- 
thought his success was sartin, but he soon 
came tarr'ble nigh makin' a tragedy ov hisself, 
poor chap. 

' There was a young widow woman came 
ti live doon here at the Prospect House 
ower there. She'd been married on a fat 
old chap that had made a lot o' brass i' the 
toon i' publics, an' they used to come here 
for a bit i' the summer, an' when he died she 
comes doon ti the "Prospect" ti bide for 
good an' aal. 

' I sometimes think,' continued my com- 
panion after a slight pause, ' that it's a sair 
pity folks isn't sometimes drooned like kittens 
or " put under " same as dogs that turn oot 
no use. It wud save a lot o' misfortunes an' 
misery, I's warn'd, an' unless ye drooned a 
Gladstone, or a John Wesley, or mevvies 
even a " Heckler," the world would be aal 
the better o't. 

' Anyways, she should have been drooned 



'IN MEMORIOV'M' 113 

slap off as a babby, for she was a rank bad 
un — just rank bad ti the bone — an' when a 
woman is bad, she's just the devil's own 
viewer^ or deputy, by Gox ! 

* She had been on the stage, 'twas said, at 
one time, an' there was queer stories aboot 
her, so that the gentry-folk aboot here would 
have nowt ti do wiv her, sae she had aal the 
better opportunity ti play her tricks wi' Jim. 

' She was free wi' the brass, ye ken, an' 
give subscriptions awa for the askin', pro- 
vidin' she had her name an' address clagged 
up large on the play-bills, an' was a champion 
at gettin' up concerts for wor Mechanic Insti- 
tute an' such-like entertainments. 

' That was hoo she first got a hand upon 
Jim, for he had a gran' voice — a perfect 
champion at harmony he was, an' she just 
buttered him up properly. It was ** Oh, 
Mr. Hedley, an' what a fortin ye would have 
made in the Opera!" ''Sing it again, Mr. 
Hedley, it's fair ravishin'," an' so she carried 
* Manager. 

8 



114 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

on till she had him awa to practise duetties 
wiv her at her hoos, an' made him stay 
ti supper wi' glasses o' wine tiv it — yellow 
shampain wine that'll set your brain iv a 
froth, I b'lieve, an' at the finish she has him 
just drugged wiv her enchantments. 

' There was one night I mind I was oot 
walkin' an chanst ti pass by alang that road 
there that leads past the hoos — the trees 
wasn't grown up then, ye ken, an' I could 
spy a bit in through the windie, which was 
open on the night — it bein' summer then, 
d'ye see. 

' She was settin' beside the planner playin' 
pretence wiv it, an' castin' up white eye- 
glances at Jim soft-like, noo an' again, with a 
sort ov insolence, too, as though she kenned 
her power ower him — drawin' oot the very 
marrow an' soul ov him wiv her perfections. 

' She was aal clad i' silks an' satins, like a 
play-actress — her bosom gleamin' wi' jools, 
an' Jim was leanin' against the planner gazin' 
at her, fair drunk wiv her blandishments. 



'IN MEMORIOV'M' 115 

' I cuddn't stand by an' just do nowt ava, 
sae I let fly a yell upon the night, '' Ho-way 
home ti thy own lawfu' missus, an' leave that 
d d hussy alone." 

' He gave a sudden start at that, an' leaps 
round ti the windie, claps it ti wiv a smash, 
an' pulls the curtains ower it. 

'Well, I kenned then by that token that it 
was aal ower wi' Jim. She had him fast, an' 
nowt could be done, for interferin' i' them 
cases is warse than useless ; but I was sair, 
sair grieved for him an' his wee quiet bonny- 
faced wife, an' I walked awa home callin' 
that woman aal things I could lay my tongue 
ti under heaven. 

' Things went gradually from warse ti 
warse ; he neglected his work an' avoided 
his wife, an' he became tarr'ble violent iv his 
temper, an' nigh offered ti fight me yence 
when I tried ti argy wiv him upon his 
foolishness. Well, the crissis comes one 
night when his wife follows him ti the 
Prospect Hoos an' walks straight inti the 
8—2 



ii6 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

drorln'-room where him an' the other woman 
was. He'd just been threatened by the 
viewer, d'ye see, wi' gettin' his notice if he 
didn't pull hisself tegither, an' knawin' things 
were aaltegither wrang wiv him, he just gans 
slap off ti the woman oot o' pure recklessness, 
for he was none o' yo'r half an' half gentle- 
men, an' as he was gannin' ti the deevil, wey, 
he wud gan wiv a brass band, ye ken. 

* His wife comes in upon them like a ghost, 
an' never heedin' the other woman, cries tiv 
him, haudin' oot her arms for him, ''Oh, 
come back, Jim, come back ; divvn't break 
my heart !" 

'Jim says nowt, but glares moodily on the 
ground, an' there's silence for a bit. Then 
the woman begins ti laugh saftly tiv herself, 
eyein' Jim's missus scornfu' like frae top ti 
toe standin' there, small an' shabby-dressed 
an' tearfu', an', "Wey doesn't thoo gan?" 
says she, " here's yo'r hooskeeper come ti 
fetch thoo home !" she says. 

'Jim gies a start at this an' looks up wi' 



'IN MEMORIOV'M' 117 

blazing eyes at his temptress, then he says 
tiv his wife, **Gan home, Mary, gan home; 
this Is no a fit place for thoo," an' sae she 
gans awa softly, weepin' like a desolate bairn. 

' Soon as the door shuts he turns upon the 
other woman, an' he says sternly, "This is 
the end o't, Susan ; I'm gannin' awa' an' ye'll 
never see me mair. YouVe plenty brass, an' 
can fend for yo'rself. I've given thoo my 
life, an' I can do nae mair ; sae good-bye, 
my lass, for ever an' aye." 

' But she rushes tiv him, an' clasps her 
arms roond aboot his neck an' sweethearts 
him an' swears they must get married ; but 
Jim, he puts her quietly awa', an' wiv a 
stone-set face gans oot o' the hoos an' 
straight for the shore. 

* Tossin' his cap on ti the ground, he 
walks right inti the waters an' begins swim- 
min' oot, right oot inti the sea, there ti 
droon hissel' an' his troubles straight awa. 

' Well, mevvies he was ower strong ti be 
easy ti droon ; mevvies the cold water cleared 



ii8 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

his mind a bit, an' he thought shame on 
hisseF ti leave wife an' bairns ti shift for 
theirsels ; anyhoo, as he said efter, when he 
saw the red Hght of a Httle schooner ridin' 
waitin' for the tide off the harbour, a thought 
cam intiv his brain, " Wey not gan right 
awa an' make a fresh start iv a fresh place ?" 

' The thought grows on him, an' he swims 
oot ti the schooner just as she was standin' 
awa for London town, an' he hails her an' is 
taken on board i' the nick o' time. Another 
minute an' she would have been oot o' sight 
an hearin', an' Jim would have been a corpse 
in another ten minutes, I's warn'd. 

' Well, nowt is heard ov him for months 
an' months. "The Heckler" carves an " In 
memorlov'm " on that headstone ; his missus 
gans inti "blacks/' an' the other woman 
leaves the Prospect Hoos an' gans right awa 
from these parts. 

'One day though, Jim's missus comes 
alang tiv us cryin' an' laughin' aal at yence, 
haudin' up a letter and kissin' it between 



*IN MEMORIOV'M' HQ 

whiles. ''It's from Jim! Jim!" she cries, 
''an' Jim, sweet Jim, he kept hissel' alive for 
me an' Jackie an' Sal ! Oh, he loves me yet, 

J I" 
im ! 

' Well, it seems as hoo he had gan oot tiv 
Australia, an' efter a bit wanderin' had get- 
tened hisself a very canny sitivation at a 
gold mine, an' he sends aff at yence for his 
missus an' bairns, an' a week later awa they 
starts. 

' They finds Jim doin' first-class when they 
gets there, an' he went ahead like a hoos-o'- 
fire as soon as he gets his missus an' bairns 
back tiv hissel', an' the past wiv its clartiness 
was just clean wiped out between them. 

'An' noo he's the Right Honourable the 
Lord Mayor o' Ballarat, or some such place, 
an' cannot mak' enough ov his missus and 
bairns, they say. 

'There's some women mevvies,' added 
'the Heckler' in conclusion, ' who wouldn't 
have pardoned their man, but she was one o' 
the sort that are just faithfu' ti death— nowt 



120 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

can tarr'fy them aff, an' it's fair providential 
that it should be so, for there's many men 
noo livin' who wud just have been iv hell 
lang syne else.' 



'THE HECKLER' UPON WOMEN- 
FOLK 

MEN are kittle cattle enough,' replied 
' the Heckler ' oracularly, from his 
position of vantage on the top of a gate, 
to some question of mine concerning an 
indignation meeting held recently to protest 
against some matter about which no two 
people could give a like account ; ' but 
they're nowt ti what womenfolk is. Ye 
can get roond most men easy enough if 
ye've a bit tax.' 

' Tax ?' I queried aloud, somewhat mysti- 
fied. What tax ? not rates an' tax ' 

' Gan on wi' thoo — rates an' taxes be 

d !' retorted the oracle swiftly. ' No, nowt 

ti do wi' them things ; just tax, or tacts, 



122 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

mevvles It is, meanin' a pleasant way wi' 
ye, a bit touch o' the cap when the manager's 
vext wi' ye, a turn o' management when a 
drunken man wants ti fight ye for nowt at 
aal, ye ken, an' sae forth. Wow, but ye can 
fettle most things amangst men wiv a Httle 
o' that social lubricant, but wi' women it's 
different aaltigether ; tax is nae use wi' them ; 
it's just throwin' pearls before swine.' 

' Holloa !' I interrupted again. * What 
would the missus say to that ?' 

' Not hevin' heard it, she'll say nowt,' 
retorted * the Heckler ' severely. 

' Well, as I was aboot to say when thoo 
forgot theeself, and disturbed the meetin' wi' 
yor interruptions, most men has foibles — 
some's dog-men like myself, some's book- 
men, some's gard'ners, some's beer-barrils, 
an' sae forth, an' if ye mind this ye can get 
what ye want usuallies oot o' them. But 
women's a different breed aaltigether. They 
divvn't care for the same things as men, an' 
ye cannet get roond them, I's warn'd, for 



*THE HECKLER' UPON WOMEN 123 

they elwls gets roond ye instead. A man 
has no ambitions till he's married, Maistor 
John. Mevvies he's keen aboot this, an' 
that, an' 'tother thing, but that's nowt. Noo, 
woman's just chockfull ov ambitions aal her 
life long, an's nivvor, no, nivvor, satisfied 
from her cradle tiv her grave, an' even then 
she's wantin' fower horses tiv her hearse. 
Tak' a wee girlie for an instance : she's elwis 
wantin' new claes ; then she's wantin' a 
man, then bairns, then a hoos ov her own, 
then a better cloak than Mariarann nex' 
door ; an when she gets them aal she's not 
satisfied, not one little bit, but's warse than 
ivvor. 

' Noo I'll gie ye an instance o't 
* Ye'll dootless mind havin' seen or heard 
tell ov Tom Archbold, yence fore overman 
here i' the aad pit, a great, big, buirdly man, 
champion hewer o' the colliery at one time, 
who aye took the lead i' the village at every 
bit sport, an' carry-on, an' jollification that 
might be gannin' on at any time. 



^24 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

* Well, there was a little wee bit lassie ov 
aboot twenty-five years ov age, who had 
been married yence, but had lost her man 
iv an accident doon the pit — a fall o' stone, 
ye ken — an' nae sooner has she buried 
him than she's on the look-oot for anither 
mate. 

'Well, bein' the littlest woman i' the 
village, she natorally — such bein' woman's 
human nature — tak's a fancy for the biggest 
man Iv It, meanin' Tom Archbold, an' she 
gans for him straight awa. 

' Ye'll hev seen a setter dog workin' for a 
partridge or a rabbit iv a rough grass field, 
mevvies. Weel, it was just the same method 
o' procedure wiv her. She gets a scent o' 
what she was wantin' ; she draws upon him 
up wind ; then she gets a tip-toe, steals tiv 
him till her breath's fair upon him, an' the 
man's done — fair done — clean copped, and it's 
" for better an' warse till death do us part." 

* So it was wi' Lizzie an' Tom. 

' Tom was a weeda (widower), an' on the 



'THE HECKLER' UPON WOMEN 125 

look-out for anither missus, an' havin' had 
a great big woman for his first — a proper 
marrow ov himself i' size an' shape — an' not 
havin' been ower well satisfied wiv his venture, 
he thinks he'll try a smaller article for his 
second lott'ry. 

' Well, Tom was elwis very free an' open 
wiv his conversation, an' mevvies Lizzie, 
she gets ti hear ov it ; but she pretends ti 
tak' no notice o' Tom when she passes along 
the Raa,* or meets Tom i' the street. She 
just sails past him, noo wiv head i' the air, 
again wiv her eyes upon the ground, mournfu* 
like for the loss of her man, an' Tom 
becomes quite bewitched by her manners, 
for she was a fair contrast wiv Bella, who 
had ti tarrify him wiv a summons from the 
pollis at the finish before she could get him 
ti marry her i' chorch. 

* Well, she bags him clivvor at the finish, 
an' they gets theyselves married wivoot 
more ado. 

* Row. 



126 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

'A week efter comes "pay-Friday,"^ an', 
natorally, quite apart from the " celebration 
of his nuptials," as the newspaper cheps say, 
he gets hissel as boosy as can be, what wi' 
standin' treat, an' bein' treat an' aal, an' efter 
closin' time it was wi' some difficulty that me 
an' my marrer gets him along home. 

' We knocks on the door, an' we assists 

him in, an' he staggers up tiv his missus, who 

was sittin' iv her armchair knittin', an' tries 

ti gle her a bit chuck under the chin. " Ho- 

— way ," he stutters, " Lizzie, maa lass, 

an' put us ti bed !" an stoopin' down Iv a 

staggerin' way ti kiss her loses his balance^ 

an' flops doon unexpected on the floor. 

" Ye needn't wait," Lizzie says tiv us, 

haughty-like, takin' no notice o' Tom, an' 

sae oot we gans, an' leaves them. But we 

just stops a minute ootside ti hear Lizzie gie 

him his gruel ; an', wow ! but she let him 

* Pitmen are paid fortnightly on the Friday : the follow- 
ing day is ' pay-Saturday.' Non-pay-Saturday is known 
as ' baff-Saturday,' the derivation of which no man knows 
to this day. 



'THE HECKLER' UPON WOMEN 127 

have it, an' no mistake ! " Thoo great 
flamin' drunken lubbert !" says she, '' comin' 
home ti my hoos at this time o' night, drunk 
as a lord, an' only been married a week !" she 
cries. /' Thoo mun just get used wiv It, maa 
lass," says he solemnly from the floor ; " for 
aa elwis gets drunk reg'lor on a pay-Friday ; 

an' it'sh maa hoos thoo , for aa's 

maistor/' he says, thinkin', mevvies, he mun 
assert hissel' even if he has had his gills. 

'''Put thoo ti bed .f^" cries she. " Wey, 
I'll not touch thoo, nor let thoo touch me 
nowther till thoo's sober again, an's begged 
maa pardon." 

' " Pardon-sh ?" says Tom, an' laughs, fair 
amused by her impittence. ^'Wey, if maa 
legs wesn't sae wambly the night, I'd larn 
thoo a lesson, thoo " 

' " Get up, an' try, thoo sponge o' beer," 
she says, an' snaps her fingers iv his face. 
" Get up, an' try," cries she again. " I daur 
thoo ti ;" an' she actually has the impittence 
ti stir him wiv her foot. Just fancy that ! 



128 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

A yard an' a half o' petticoat, fair insultin' 
upon a proper mountain ov a man like Tom ! 
The door was a bit open, d'ye see, an' my 
marrer an' me could see them two comics 
quite plain. 

' Well, Tom, he thinks things is comin' 
tiv a pretty pass If his missis Is gannin' ti 
clean her boots on him efter a week's 
marryin' ; so, much against his will, he pulls 
hissel' tegither, an' by the help o' the bedpost 
gets on his feet. 

* " Wey," cries Lizzie again, lookln' him 
ower mair scornfu' than ever, ''thoo's as 
unsteady on thy feet as a horse wi' the 
staggers!" she says. "I could knock thoo 
doon wi' one finger !" 

" I bet-sh a sovereign thoo cannet ; ay, 
anither that I'll drive yo'r lugs reet Intiv 
r held wi' one bat o' my fist," says he ; 
he puffs hissel' oot as he searches for the 
coin, an' spits on his hands Iv a preliminary 
sort o' way. 

' Then, sudden, she comes up tiv him, gies 



an 
yo 
an 



*THE HECKLER' UPON WOMEN 129 

him a tap wiv her forefinger, unexpected Hke, 
straight on the breast, an' Tom, taken un- 
awares, lurches backward, catches his foot iv 
a bracket, crashes Intiv a chair, an' falls wIv 
a tarr'ble thump an' a racket of furniture 
straight on ti the flaggin'. He gles a little 
lift ov his head as he looks up in a dazed way 
for a moment from the floor. Then he says^ 
sinkin' back again, "There's been a fall o' 
stone; gan an' fetch the deplty," he says, 
then sort o' dwams (swoons) awa. 

' Lizzie, she looks him ower for awhile, 
cool as a policeman wiv a lantern, then lifts a 
pillow off the bed, an' puts it under his head 
as he lies stretched upon the floor. Next, 
she takes the boots off her man, an' sae 
leaves him ti bide where he lies, whilst she 
gans ti bed her lane. 

' Next mornin' Tom feels hissel' as sick as 
a bad bat o' the head an' a wambly stomach 
can make a man, an' " lies in " while his missus 
gles him warm things ti drink, an' tends him 
like a bairn. 

9 



130 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

' Well, she has him properly caught, for he 
has ti He there idle the best part ov a week, 
an' cannet work for another week efter that, 
the skelp he'd got frae the fall bein' a serious 
affair, as it seemed. 

' When he gets up again he was sae savage 
at the chaff he gets aboot bein' knocked 
doon biv his missus that he gans back tiv 
his hoos iv a hurry, tak's off his belt, an' is 
gannin' ti strap her within an inch ov her life, 
when she says, '' Tomi, an' who was it that's 
been nursin' thoo this last fortnight ?" An' 
she axes it quietly, facin' him wivoot a 
tremor, her eyes fixed upon his. 

' Tom stands there wiv his arm uplifted ; 
but though he was hot ti strike her, somehoo 
or ither, as he said efter, he was fair bested 
if he could manage it. 

' Well, that was aboot the beginnin' an' 
the end o't, for she'd conquered him properly, 
an' Mister Six-Foot-Two soon found oot 
he'd got a proper taskmaster for his missus, 
even though she was but a yard an' a half 



*THE HECKLER' UPON WOMEN 131 

high, an' looked as though ye could have 
snapt her across yor arm. She didn't knock 
him doon again, but she was elwis surprisin' 
him inti startin things, an' when he tired ov 
it she would scorn him a bit, an' ask, ''An' 
what's the good o' bein' a strong man if ye 
cannet show yor strength ? Any fool can 
get drunk," says she, "an' lose his brass 
bettin' ; but thoo's a strong man, Tom, I's 
warn'd, an' I've bet Ned Lee's wife a dollar 
that thoo can walk past the Pitman's Arms 
on pay-Friday night wivvoot ever lookin' 
inside !" 

' Well, that was the way o't i' Lizzie's 
case. She soon had her Samson's locks 
clipped short, an' iv a few years' time he 
becomes a depity, a back overman, an' finally 
fore overman, has a hoos ov his own, an' a 
whole raa (row) o' cottages. 

' Some has different ways from others,' 
reflected my companion, further, ' but aal 
womenfolk's ambitious.' 

' Noo, tak' my own case — *' the Heckler's " 
9—2 



132 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

— when I got married on the aad lady there 
was no nonsense aboot the business. 
" Ho- way," I says, '* will ye tak' us, Betty ?" 
for I kenned nicely beforehand she was the 
right sort for us, havin' obsarved her 
previous, an' walked oot wiv her a Sunday 
night or two. "Ay, an' I will, Geordie," 
she says thankfully, an' as meek as skim 
milk ; but for aal that I've been got the best 
o' lots o' time biv her ambition, an' noo, here 
I is, wiv a fam'ly o' seven, an' the missus 
insistin' upon Harry's — that's the eldest boy, 
ye ken — gannin' ti the Grammar School ti 
parfect hissel' as a scholar. Ay, wor Harry's 
a proper scholar, I's warn'd, but schoolin's 
tarr'ble expensive. 

'An' noo, I'll just gie ye this bit advice, 
Maistor John. Divvn't thoo get married 
unless thoo marries a heiress, for, I tell thoo, 
aal women's ambitious, an' ambition's a 
tarr'ble expensive hobby. 

' Gox ! yes, just fearful, Maistor John.' 



THE ^CALEB JAY' 

(THE * QUEL 0BJ£:T ') 

I. 

THE 'Caleb Jay'* was not, as his nick- 
name of itself might testify, popula 
In our pit village of Black Winning. His 
appearance was against him in the first 
instance, and he continued to be shy and 
reserved even after you might be said to 

^ It is said that at the time of the Napoleonic wars 
some French prisoners were detained in custody in the 
pit country not far from Durham City. It would appear 
that some intercourse between the inhabitants of the 
place and the foreigners sprang up, which resulted in 
the addition of one expressive phrase, at least, to the 
local dialect, that, namely, of 'Caleb Jay' for 'Quel 
objet !' due to their strange garb, probably, or tattered 
appearance. The phrase is now wholly obsolete, the 
writer believes, but it is said it was once actually in use. 



134 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

have made his acquaintance. Reserve is 
unpopular in any society, but in the lower 
social erades, where life is of a freer and 
more hearty character than in the propriety- 
loving circles of the well-to-do, it may be 
said to be one of the ' seven deadly sins.' 

There was no reserve about Tom, his 
elder brother, who was a good-looking, idle, 
somewhat dissolute youth of twenty-three 
years of age. 

Tom was always ready to * stand in ' for a 
'ha'penny loo,' never flinched from a 'bout 
at the beer,' could throw a quoit well, when 
his eye was clear and his hand steady, and 
was never at a loss with the lasses. 

Tom, therefore, was a general favourite, 
being ' well ta'en up wi' ' by all save a few of 
the more serious-minded people ; and ' Caleb 
Jay ' suffered, I think, partly through contrast 
with his brother. 

' Caleb Jay ' had been injured when work- 
ing as a putter down the pit, and conse- 
quently was 'game of one leg.' He wore 



THE 'CALEB JAY' 135 

the cast-off finery of his brother, the coloured 
scarves and embroidered waistcoats of his 
festive occasions — out of economy, no doubt, 
but some said ' oot o' foolishness/ 

Certainly they did not suit well with his 
sallow complexion and thin, peaked counte- 
nance, and with the big and weary eyes. 

He worked now at any odd job he could 
find. He had the care of the viewer's strip 
of kitchen garden, and went round with 
papers, etc. ; but it was not much that he 
earned, apparently, for his mother, who doted 
on her handsome son Tom, was often heard 
to complain that he wasn't worth his 
keep. 

He had a strange way of mysteriously 
disappearing for some days on occasion, 
sometimes even for a week at a stretch, and 
sundry persons, annoyed perhaps by his 
reticence, hinted at secret dissipation. 

If closely questioned, he would admit having 
had a 'job i' the toon,' or 'ower away yonder,' 
pointing vaguely this way or that ; and gossip 



136 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

had at least this confirmation for its un- 
charitable suspicion, that he always returned 
pale, tired and haggard-looking. 

Some of the boys had tried to * nab ' him 
either coming or going on one of these 
expeditions of his, but he was ' cuter nor a 
cushat, '"^ as I overheard a sporting youth 
lament who had followed him in early morn- 
ing all the way to Oldcastle, and there in the 
suburbs had suddenly lost him just on the 
brink of discovering the secret. 

Gradually we became accustomed to his 
flittings, and he was spied upon no more ; 
but for my own part I thought I had, by a 
comparison of the times and seasons of his 
absences, at least discovered this much — 
that he was usually away at the Incidence 
of fairs and festivals. 

I think I knew him more intimately than 

any other person in the village, except, 

perhaps, our Methodist minister, who never 

rested till he had succoured any who might 

* Wood-pigeon. 



THE 'CALEB JAY' 137 

be in ' sickness, sorrow, or distress '; but to 
neither of us, I found, on comparing notes, 
had he ever vouchsafed any confidences. 

The only way in which I eventually dis- 
covered I could be of any use to him was by 
lending him books. He was extremely fond 
of reading, and had a special taste for dramatic 
poetry, which he occasionally gratified by 
coming to my lodgings, and there devour- 
ing the historical plays and tragedies of 
Shakespeare. 

I had once or twice on these occasions 
endeavoured to extort from him the secret 
of his absences, but the only result had been 
an increased reserve on his part, followed by 
an almost immediate departure from my 
presence, so that I had soon desisted from 
further questioning him on the point. 

At the same time, I confess I entertained 
a lingering hope that I might one day be 
able to penetrate the mystery ; for mystery 
of some sort I was convinced it was, though 
not of a vulgar kind. 



138 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 



II. 

It so chanced that I was detained in 
Bridgeton on the day of the annual fair and 
hiring, and having two hours to wait for my 
train, I determined to pass the time away by 
noting the humours of the festival. Farmers' 
wives, laden with ' remnants ' and cheap 
bargains in the hardware line, were slowly 
surging through the throng, towards the 
various publics, in search of their ' men ' and 
the 'trap.' Hinds, male and female, having 
now 'bound their bargains' with their masters, 
were coasting round the booths and stalls, 
' putting in ' at all the ale-houses they passed 
in their uncertain voyaging. 

The men were somewhat sheepish still, 
not having taken sufficient beer on board as 
yet to lose the shyness of the countryman in 
town. They confined themselves to chaffing 
one another, to casting stray glances at their 
sweethearts, who tittered in their wake, and 



THE 'CALEB JAY' 139 

to offering, when moved to gallantry, 'anuther 
glass o' yel.' 

A squad of pitmen here and there, their 
customary rivalries heated with liquor, were 
challenging each other noisily at the various 
' try-your-strengths' and *prove-your-powers' 
that were anchored in the corners of the 
market-place. 

My attention was next attracted by the 
clash of cymbals and flamboyant drum- 
drubbings. ' 'Ere y'are, ladies and gents, 
'ere y'are ! Yo'r friend an' acquaintance Bob 
Stevens, wiv his high-class dancin', trapezin', 
Shakespearian an' variety entertainment !' 

The great flaring gas-brackets, with their 
smoky tongues stabbing the darkness fitfully, 
lit up a most delectable advertisement. I 
produced 'tuppence,' 'walked up,' as invited, 
to the tent, and found myself in the ' hall of 
amusement and instruction combined.' It 
was already crowded, but I eventually dis- 
covered a seat in the far corner. 

Cries of 'Back! back!'* were still ringing 
* The Northumbrian for 'encore.' 



140 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

in the air, and after a moment or two a most 
cadaverous - looking clown reappeared and 
advanced to the footlights. 

His haggard, melancholy mien was In 
admirable artistic contrast to his garb and 
the burlesque humour of his song. 'And 
oh^ sang he, at the end of each verse relating 
some contretemps of the bashful lover, ' it 
makes me very, very lively ! Very, very lively f 
he repeated, as he step-danced up and down 
the tiny stage amidst the guffaws of his 
audience. 

It was no great thing to do, perhaps ; but 
it was admirably done. There was no 
extravagance in his accompanying actions, 
nor exaggeration of emphasis anywhere. In 
short, there was something of the genuine 
artist in him, and It was evident that he held 
his quaintly assorted ' tuppeny ' audience in 
his grasp. 

I grew strangely Interested in the queer 
little figure before me. Something about 
him appealed strongly to the Imagination. 



THE 'CALEB JAY' 141 

He was encored again, and as I watched 
him more narrowly his aspect became more 
and more pathetic. I grew convinced that 
he was suffering physical pain ; the blot of 
vermilion on his nose glowed brighter ; 
beneath his mask of white I could see ashen- 
coloured lines streaking a colourless face. 

'Poor little chap,' thought I; 'he's 
starving !' 

Just at that ^ moment he concluded at the 
'wings,' bowing to the audience. His linen 
blouse blew open as he turned, and below 
a ragged shirt thus momentarily visible I 
saw that which made me suddenly feel sick. 
Before I recovered myself he had passed out 
on a step, humming his refrain, ' O/i, it makes 
7ne very, very lively I ' 

Now, what I saw was a tumour which 
could only mean one thing, and that was 
death — an early and painful death probably. 
'He's not starving,' I muttered to myself; 
' poor little chap, he's dying !' 

I thought I would go out into the fresh 



142 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

air, but as I prepared to rise my eye caught 
sight of a chink in the canvas through which 
the ' green room ' was visible. 

The trapeze gentleman was now perform- 
ing, and the clown was removing his ' make 
up.' Now that he was off the stage I could 
see that he had a limp. A gust of wind 
came suddenly, enlarging the opening. He 
turned, apparently to close the orifice ; his 
eyes met mine, and in that startled second 
I knew him to be the ' Caleb Jay.' 

Repressing a cry of surprise, I came out, 
and went round to the back to wait for him. 

III. 

* Now, tell me,' said I, as I led him up to 
the station, ' why do you do it ? You know 
you oughtn't to, for it will kill you if you 
exert yourself like that.' 

' Ay, an' that's why,' replied he, ' for I ken 
I'm dyin' ; I went an' axed a doctor a while 
back, iv Oldcastle, an' he says, " I'll gie ye a 
year ti live at the ootside," says he.' 



THE ' CALEB JAY ' 143 

* Then, why do It ?' I urged. * Do you 
love It so, or Is It for the sake of the money ?' 

'Ay,' he replied, gasping a little, as we 
mounted the slope to the station, ' that's It. 
It's for the brass. Ye ken Tom, my brother? 
Well, It's for him I' pairt, an' i' pairt for my 
mother, who wants a bit frae me for my 
keep, ye ken. Noo, Tom's a bonny fellow, 
ain't he ? — just a joy ti the eye tl look upon ; 
an' he's aye wantin' a bit mair brass for this, 
an' that, an' t'lther, an', man. It's a pleasure tl 
me ti slave a bit for him. There's nae use o' 
brass for me — me that' just the puir ''Caleb 
Jay " — but Tom's like a live lord when he's 
plenty of brass ; an', man, but he spends it 
weel !' 

I was silent for a while, thinking of the 
tragedy of it all. Then I inquired again : 
' Well, but how did you know you had this 
gift of acting and singing and impersona- 
tion ? and why did you hide your talent so 
carefully from us all ?' 

' It came ower us first, I think,' he 



144 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

answered, * when reading Shakespeare an' 
tragedies an' sic like. I seemed ti see the 
vary actors theirselves before my eyes, an' I 
fair felt like them, ye ken. Ye'll think it 
strange, mevvies, but grandfeythor, he had 
a bit talent that way, an' ran awa frae his 
home, an' made his livin' play-actin', an' 
piano-playin', an' singin', an aal. He took 
ill somewhere aboot here, an' died, an' 
feythor, he took ti warkin' at the pits, an' 
that's the story of it,' concluded my little 
companion shyly. 

' But with a gift like yours, why didn't you 
tell 7ue of it, for example, or the minister, 
and perhaps we could have got you a proper 
start somewhere ?' 

'Ay, I kenned that,' said he, 'an' thank 
ye kindlies ; but I found, on tryin' it, that I 
wesn't Strang enow for't iv a reg'lor way ; an' 
forbye that, I didn't want the laddies ti ken 
aboot it, lest they might call us " Hamlet," 
mevvies, or "clownie," or sic like, an' my 
mother divvent like play-actin' ; it was she as 



THE ' CALEB JAY ' 145 

made my feythor give it up, sayin' it wes nae 
bettor than a mugger's* life, elwis wanderin' 
frae one place tiv anuther, an' nae brass iv it 
at aal.' 

There was no time for further talk, for the 
train was waiting, and, arriving at our 
destination, I found my companion so tired 
that it was all he could do to walk home. 

The minister and I put our heads together 
after this, and collected enough money to 
send our little friend down to a seaside home 
for a few weeks. 

On Saturday night, however, a message 
came from the doctor that he was rapidly 
sinking. His mother and brother were both 
out, as it happened, but the minister and I 
arrived just in time to bid farewell to the 
poor little ' Caleb Jay.' 

As we proceeded silently homeward, an 
idea came into my head. 

'In an age of public testimonials and 
memorials,' I said, 'humble self-sacrifice 
* * Mugger ' = beggar ; literally, one who sells mugs. 
10 



146 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

goes unrewarded. Our little friend ought to 
have a statue at the least ; but, of course, it 
Is no good doing anything. You, therefore, 
should bring him into your sermon to-morrow 
evening, and give a few people a hint of it 
beforehand.' 

The idea seemed to strike my companion, 
and he said he would gladly do so. 

I had not seen Tom, but as I walked to 
my lodgings I passed him standing at the 
street corner amidst a knot of companions. 

I heard one of them mention the ' Caleb 
Jay,' and I stayed my steps a moment to 
hear the reply. 

'Ay,' said Tom, 'he was a plucky little 
beggor Iv his way, an' useful tae, an' I was 
often sorry for him, he wes sae tari-ble tcgly ! 
But, ho-way, Ts plenty brass on me, and I'll 
treat ye aal tlv anuthor beor !' 



GEORDIE ARMSTRONG, 'THE 
JESU-YTE' 

I. 

GEORDIE ARMSTRONG, after a 
somewhat stormy past, had become 
a steady hewer, and a local preacher of some 
repute. Never a Sunday but he was 'planned' 
to speak at this or that village, and frequently, 
as he found opportunity, would ' pit in a bit 
overtime ' at a ' class-meeting ' or ' knife-an'- 
fork tea,' when the ' asking a blessing ' or 
a returning of thanks might furnish occasion 
for a ' bit extemporizin'.' He was in receipt 
of excellent wages down the pit ; his wordly 
goods comprised, as he often proclaimed, 
a ' bonny, an' what's o' far mair importance, 
a godly missus, three canny bairns, a cosy 
lO — 2 



148 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

hoos, a fine little llbralree, an' a tarr'ble 
fertile garden.' 

As he thought upon the sum of his 
blessings one Saturday night when, after 
having ' weshed hissel' an' had his tea,' he 
proceeded to light his pipe, he felt he could 
only properly describe himself as a ' varitable 
corn-u-cop-ye-ar ov happiness.' 

Yet even then, even in that depth of 
felicity, an uneasy feeling would intrude : 
the memory of Scotty would float to the 
surface of his mind, and the thought of the 
' parlous state ' in which his old ' marrow ' 
(mate) stood would ruffle its calm placidity. 

This was ' the little rift within the lute '; 
here was the caterpillar in the ' corn-u-cop- 
ye-ar,' and, like the Apostle Paul of old, he 
was fain to accept his trial, in the spirit of 
true humility, as a judgment upon him for 
the failings of his past life. 

It was not for lack of trying that Scotty 
refused to come to chapel ; indeed, Geordie 
had so vexed him with his importunity 



GEORDIE ARMSTRONG 149 

that Scotty had refused to work with 
him any longer, and was now employed 
further * in-by ' with another mate. But for 
all that, Geordie felt certain that the cause 
of failure lay with himself, due probably to his 
weakness In faith, to lack of some essential 
or other, and that the blame of Scotty 's 
not being * brought to the Lord ' lay at his 
door. 

It had been evident to him for some time 
that he must try other means, and, being a 
great reader, he had latterly come across, 
and been much attracted by, a remarkable 
account of some ancient methods of the 
* Jesu-ytes ' in cases of this sort. 

Sometimes the sinner in question had been 
unwittingly tempted into the ' narrow path ' 
by the gratification of his ambitions on some 
point or other, conversion resulting, as in the 
case of Tom Appleby — once a fire-hot 
Socialist, now a sleek Conservative — from 
unexpected prosperity. 

At other times the same end had been 



150 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

attained by a crafty flattery. Suppose a 
man ambitious of eminence and State dis- 
tinction : he might be diverted from politics 
to the Church, and many were the Instances 
given of bold and ambitious men who had 
done great work and attained high place as 
the servants of St. Peter. 

Could Scotty not be caught hold of in 
some such fashion ? queried Geordle to him- 
self, as he sat by his fireside that night, 
deeply pondering the records he had just 
been studying. ' I divvn't think he's am- 
bitious, for he cares nowt aboot politics, an' 
he never even thought o' stannin' for election 
on wor Parish Cooncil. Aal he cares for is 
his beer, an' his quoits, an' bettin', an' — an' — 
his pansles ; an' I doot I cannot catch baud 
ov him In any one of those partlc'lors, for It 
wouldn't be fittin' for us that's a local preacher 
to gan an' send him a barrll o' beer, or back 
him at a quoitin' m.atch. But stay — there's 
the pansles ; he's pansy champion, dootless ; 
but then I's leek champion, an' if I can grow 



GEORDIE ARMSTRONG 151 

leeks, I's warn'd but 1 can grow pansies, for 
flooers is easier grown nor vegetables.' 

Geordle puffed at his pipe vigorously for 
a minute or two In silence as he turned the 
matter over In his mind. 

A light kindled slowly In the back of his 
deep-set eye, a smile showed upon his lips, 
then he cuffed himself vigorously upon the 
knee. 

' Ho-way, gan on, Geordle !' he encouraged 
himself aloud ; ' thoo's turnin a fair Jesu-yte, 
I's warn'd !' 



As the day appointed for the annual meet- 
ing of the Flower Show drew near, Geordle 
had been heard to drop hints of the 'wonnerfu' 
new specie ' of pansies he had become pos- 
sessed of — ' seedlin's ' he had obtained ' doon 
the south-country way,' and It was not long 
before the rumour reached the ears of 
Scotty. 

Nothing could exceed the contempt of 



152 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

the latter when he heard of Geordie's trying 
to grow pansies — ' him that's just a vegetable 
man, a tormut (turnip) grower, a sort o' 
ha'penny farmer,' and as for anything good 
In the way of seedlings coming out of the 
south-country. It was just ' bang rldl'klous,' 
for a folk kenned that a the best growers 
lived in auld Scotland. 

By-and-by some mischievous Individual 
told Scotty that Geordle was ' full ' set upon 
being pansy champion, and was so cock- 
sure about It that he was willing to back 
himself to win. 

Scotty was so annoyed at this that the 
next time he came across Geordle he could 
not refrain from jeering at his attempt at 
pansy growing. ' Wey, It'll be as muckle as 
ye can do to tell a pansy frae a vl'let i' he 
cried. 

Geordle looked at him seriously from 
under his bushy eyebrows as he replied, ' I's 
gannin' to show — an' I's gaimin' to win — wi' 
pansies, not vilets.^ 



GEORDIE ARMSTRONG 153 

* Will ye back yorsel', then ?' retorted his 
opponent sneeringly. 

'Well, ye knaa,' replied the other slowly, 
with evident embarrassment, ' Vs not a bet- 
tin' man, but if thoo thinks I's not in earnest, 
I's willin' to gie a proof that I is. What 
d'ye say to yor takin' — if ye beat us, that 
is — anythin' oot o' my hoos thoo has a 
fancy for ; an' — an' — if I beat thoo, wey, aal 
I axes is that thoo should come to chapel 
— noo an' again, ye knaa — ov an evenin',' 
he hastily added, as his companion's face 
assumed a look of infinite scorn. 

' Ha' ye got that auld double-barrelled 
shot-gun yet ?' queried Scotty, after a pause 
in which he had arrived at the conclusion 
that the odds were ' aboot a thoosand to one ' 
in his favour. 

' Yes,' replied Geordie. ' I still have her ; 
she's there hangin' up above the mantel- 
shelf.' 

'Well, I'll tak' up wi' yor proposal,' was 
Scotty's reply. 



154 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

' Shake hands on't, then/ said Geordie 
slowly, unsuccessfully endeavouring to instil 
an apprehensive tremor into his voice. 

His companion shook hands carelessly, 
and swung away whistling barefacedly, ' And 
it's up wi' the bonnets o' Bonnie Dundee.' 

Geordie, on his part, walked away swiftly 
homewards, fearing lest his exultation might 
betray itself too openly. ' Wow !' he thought 
to himself, 'but I's fair a-feard o' mysel'. 
I's growin' intiv a proper Jesu-yte !' 

The morning of the show-day came, and 
Geordie, having finished packing his exhibits 
with extraordinary care, had just returned 
with the small cart the grocer had lent him 
to convey his treasures to the show-field, 
about a mile and a half distant, when up 
came Maggie, Scotty's wife, who, notwith- 
standing the little difference between their 
respective men, had always kept up her 
friendship with Geordie's wife. Her arms 
bore a large green case, tied round with a 
many-knotted cord. This she hastily set 



GEORDIE ARMSTRONG 155 

down beside the cart, then turned breath- 
lessly to Geordie, who, with his son, was just 
about to drive off. 

' Eh noo, canny man,' she cried, as she 
wiped her hot face with the tail of her gown, 
' do us a favour. Will thoo carry my man's 
pansy-case up to the show wi' yors ? Wor 
Jimmy was to have taken it up first thing 
this mornin', but he went aff for his school 
treat an' left it — an' my man's awa playin' 
hissel' at quoits — an' he'll aboot kill Jimmy 
when he gans up to the show an' finds his 
pansies isn't there.' 

Geordie willingly acceded, and the green 
case was carefully deposited alongside of his 
own at the bottom of the cart. 

His nine-year-old son squatted on the seat 
opposite, his legs up to his chin, so as to be 
out of the way as much as possible in the 
crowded cart. The pony started off gallantly 
enough, and all went well till within about 
two or three hundred yards of the field. At 
that point, however, the pony suddenly shied 



156 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

at some stray paper on the road, and Tommy 
fell with a crash upon the green case below. 

* Eh, Tommy, lad !' cried his father in 
dismay ; ' what hast thoo done ? Wow ! but 
thoo's gan an' smashed Scotty's case right 
thro' an' thro' !' 

His succeeding feeling was one of joy ; 
for, the accident having irreparably damaged 
a third at least of his rival's pansies, it was 
evident that Scotty was now 'catched,' 
and Geordie, with an inward acknowledg- 
ment to Providence, saw, as in a vision, 
Scotty sitting devoutly * under ' himself in 
chapel. 

A few moments later, however, doubt and 
dismay entered his soul. What if Scotty 
should say Tommy had done it ' o' purpose ' — 
at his instigation ? Further reflection con- 
vinced him that this was exactly what 
Scotty would say, and doubtless there 
would be some folk unkind enough to back 
him up in it. 

Scotty would likelies claim the gun. 



GEORDIE ARMSTRONG 157 

Well, he'd not mind parting with that, but 
he could not give up the prospect of saving 
Scotty's soul alive without a groan. 

' Eh, Tommy, lad ! Eh, Tommy ! But 
thoo divvn't knaa what thoo's done ; thoo's 
put us in a fine quandary,' he murmured, 
gazing sadly now at Tommy, who was rub- 
bing his knee ruefully, and again at the 
splintered case. The problem was a ' puzzlor ;' 
even a Jesu-yte might have found solution 
difficult ; for Scotty, he knew, would not 
believe him if he told the simple story of the 
accident, and winning the prize would be 
useless in the face of Scotty's insinuations 
of foul play. 

The only way out of the difficulty, he 
determined sadly, was to exhibit his own 
pansies under Scotty's name, and withdraw 
from the contest himself. The contents of 
the two cases were sufficiently alike for his 
purpose, though his own were superior In 
size and depth of colour. It was a * sair trial,' 
for his pansies were bound to win ; but his 



158 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

character as an honest, religious man was at 
stake, and Scotty's triumph would be easier 
to endure than his sneers, If defeated, at a 
' chap who caa's hlssel' releegious, an' swindles 
ye like a Jew pedlar.' 

With a groan he undid the label, and tied 
it on to his own beloved specimens, casting 
aside, as a temptation of the evil one, a dis- 
turbing suggestion that he was guilty of 
deception In passing off his own as Scotty's 
pansies. 

^ 4i. 4i, M, ^ 

vv* TV" -^ -7T* ^ 

The judges had been round, and Scotty's 
pansies easily gained the place of pride ; 
pansies so perfectly developed, so dark and 
deep in colour, had never been shown before. 

A crowd of admirers stood round. Scotty 
came lurching up, having evidently held a 
preliminary carouse in certain expectation of 
the championship, and, with a careless glance 
at his exhibits and the red card attached, 
cried triumphantly : 

* Ay ! an' whaur's that Geordie body noo. 



GEORDIE ARMSTRONG 159 

wi' his brags an' a' ? Wey, I'm tauld he 
daurna even exhibit his ain puir specimens 
by the side o' mine ! Look at thae pansies, 
an' think o' him wi' his yaller sheep's tormuts 
tryin' to vie wi' me that's the auld estabHshed 
pansy champion ! Ay, I'm that ower an' ower 
again; an' what's mair, I've win his gun. 
Wey, I'll gang an' fetch her awa at aince !' 

So boasting, the proud champion reeled off 
in triumph, inadvertently knocking up against 
a silent looker-on, who was standing in melan- 
choly guise against a tent-pole some little 
distance away. 

One morning, a day or so after the flower- 
show, it chanced that Tommy was late for 
school, and, rounding a corner hurriedly, ran 
up against a big boy, who was sporting a 
pansy in his buttonhole. The big boy, who 
was Scotty's son, immediately proceeded to 
cuff him for his carelessness, and Tommy 
retorted by *' calling ""' his opponent and his 
family connections with a ready profuseness. 
* Abusing. 



i6o TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

' Wey, even that pansy thoo's sportin* 
divvn't belong thoo, nor thy feythor nowther, 
it's my dad's growin' ; he showed his ain 
pansles as Scotty's, 'cos Scotty's happened 
an accident i' the cart. Feythor took them 
up for yor mither, 'cos thoo had forgottened 
them, an' to save thoo a strappin' ; an' 
feythor's pansy champion, and Scotty's nowt 
but a beer-barril !' 

' Liar !' responded the other boy, with a 
punch of his fist. 

'Ax yor mither, then,' shouted Tommy, 
as he ducked and broke away from his 
captor's clutch. 

A night or two after this encounter Geordie 
was surprised by a visit from Scotty. 

' Whatten a tale's this ye're spreadin' 
aboot o' yor showin' yoor pansies as mine, 
Fd like to ken ?' demanded the intruder 
wrathfully. 

Geordie looked up quietly from his book, 
and : ' Fve spread no tales aboot thoo or thy 
pansies,' he replied. 



GEORDIE ARMSTRONG i6i 

* Weel, It's either thoo or that wee, im- 
pittent son o' yoors, Tommy. Noo, I've 
been axin' my missus aboot it, an' she says 
she did gie ye my pansies to tak' up to 
the show wi' yoors ; an' what I want to be 
at is what i' the deil's name ye did to them.' 

Geordie, in reply, exactly related what had 
occurred. 

' Then, wey didn't ye tell us aboot it ?' 
demanded Scotty, still dissatisfied. 

' Because thoo has a tarr'ble sharp tongue 
i' thy mouth, an' I divvn't want to be scanda- 
lized aboot the village as one who would 
sharp another for the sake o' winnin' a floo'er 
prize.' 

*Hum!' ejaculated Scotty, Mt's an extra- 
ordinar' thing this ! But hoo can ye explain 
aboot the pansies, then ? I'm pansy champion, 
an' therefore thae pansies that win the prize 
mun ha' been mine, yet here ye are sayin' 
that they were yoors.' 

Geordie got up from his seat, and, without 
immediately replying, went into the room at 
II 



i62 TALES OF NORTHUxMBRIA 

the back, and came forth again bearing in his 
arms a shattered green case. 

' Dis thoo recognise this ?' he asked quietly, 
as he set it down on the table in front of his 
visitor. 

' Ay,' replied Scotty, after a minute inspec- 
tion ; ' it's mine dootless. But what then ?' 

' Wey, then, thoo has my case, an' my 
pansies inside ov it ; an' here's yors still left 
i' their holes, just as they were on show-day/ 

Scotty bent over the broken lid incredu- 
lously, lifted a faded specimen out, and re- 
garded it contemptuously. 

' Na, na,' he asserted shortly, ' that's no 
my pansies ; mine were champions, an' these 
is weeny things. Na, na, there's been a bit 
queer play about this. Maybe Tommy 
changed them frae the one case to the 
ither.' 

'Tommy did nowt o' the sort,' retaliated 
Geordie quickly. ' Aal that was done was 
to untie the label an' clagg (stick) it on to my 
case instead o' yors.' 



GEORDIE ARMSTRONG 163 

'Weel, it's a dommed queer thing aal- 
tegither,' replied Scotty, pushing his cap 
from his brow, 'and beyont me; for I'm 
champion, nobody can deny that, an' a 
proper professor at floo'er growin', an' ye're 
but an ammytoor, d'ye see? An' it's just 
surprising to me that ye could e'er imagine 
ye could compete wi' me. But I divvn't 
wish to be ower hard on ye, an' I'll e'en gie 
ye the benefit o' the doot, as the saying is ; 
sae I'll just send ye back yoor gun — that is,' 
he continued slowly, eyeing Geordie wist- 
fully, ' if ye're wishfu' to ha' her back.' 

' Thoo can keep her,' replied Geordie, 
' for it's nae use to me nowadays ; but I 
would like — I would be tarr'ble pleased if 

thoo would come ' Here he halted 

abruptly, on a sudden fear lest Scotty's sus- 
picions of some underhand play in regard to 
the pansies might be again roused if he too 
openly requested him to come to chapel. 

The other hesitated a little. ' Weel,' he 
said finally, ' it's a canny wee gun, an' I 
1 1 — 2 



i64 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

would gey like to keep her. An' as for 
chapel gangin' — for I suppose that's what 
ye're after — if ye divvn't blab aboot us, wey, 
I'll just tak' a look in noo an' again.' 

* That's right, noo,' responded Georgie 
gratefully, and his deep-set eyes glowed with 
a warmer light. * Shake hands on't' 

Scotty shook hands without demur and 
swiftly departed, fearful lest Geordie might 
regret the arrangement. 

Geordie leant back in his chair and heaved 
a sigh of relief as he offered up a silent 
thanksgiving to Providence for having 
softened Scotty's heart. 

'It's aal right noo,' he murm.ured. ' Wi' 
the help I've had from above I've catched 
him at the finish, an' chapel will do the rest.' 

Thus for some time he reflected devoutly. 
Then of a sudden a smile broke upon his lips 
and he clapped his hand vigorously upon his 
thigh. 'By!' he exclaimed aloud, 'but I's 
a proper Jesu-yte efter aal !' 



'GEORDIE RIDE-THE-STANG' 

The custom of 'riding the stang ' is now obsolete, 
so that the date of this story must be put back a 
number of years, though Mr. Brockett,^ writing in his 
glossary of Northumbrian words, in the early part of 
this century, says, 'I have myself been witness to pro- 
cessions of this kind. Offenders of this description are 
mounted a-straddle on a long pole, or stang, supported 
upon the shoulders of their companions. On this painful 
and fickle seat they are borne about the neighbourhood 
backwards, attended by a swarm of children huzzaing 
and throwing all manner of filth. It is considered a 
mark of the highest reproach, and the person who has 
been thus treated seldom recovers his character in the 
opinion of his neighbours.' The method of divination 
by the puddings has been practised within living 
memory, and even yet may be resorted to by way of 
a jest upon occasion. 

Since writing the above the author has come across 
in Mr. R. Blakeborough's interesting book, 'Yorkshire 
Wit, Character and Customs,' a different version of 
' riding the stang,' to which he is indebted for the first 
four lines of the 'furrinor's' song. In a footnote 
Mr. Blakeborough adds that the ' stang ' was ridden at 
Thoralby, Wensleydale, as recently as October, 1896. 

■^ Mr. Brockett died in 1842. 



i66 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

THERE was French blood In Geordie 
Robertson's wife, Mary, and It may 
perhaps have been owing to her origin that 
she was so eager for revenge when she 
found herself deceived by her husband. 

She had begun to suspect him of infidelity 
even before a neighbour had given her a 
hint that he had a ' fancy ' wife away in 
Bridgeton, for her husband brought home 
less and less with his ' pack ' after his weekly 
tramp was over, and when she asked for 
explanations he ' called ' her v/ith most 
abusive virulence. 

For her further satisfaction she determined 
to make trial, now that the pig was to be 
killed, of the ancient method of divination 
practised by the pit-wives, of which the 
following is the ritual : 

When the animal has been slaughtered 
and the blood duly made into puddings, these 
puddings are ' set away ' to boil by the 
inquirer of the oracle. Then, just before 
they are taken out of the * pot,' the officiating 



'GEORDIE RIDE-THE-STANG' 167 

priestess must say aloud that she ' gives 
them ' to him who is suspected of infidelity. 
Should the puddings emerge whole, gossip 
is dumfoundered ; should they come forth 
broken, the man is proved to have a ' fancy ' 
wife. 

Mary, indeed, found she could scarcely 
control her impatience when the • fatal 
day came, and, the pig duly slaughtered, 
she 'gave' the puddings to her husband, 
Geordie. 

She waited another minute to give the 
spell the lawful grace, then with a trembling 
hand plucked forth the puddings. 

* Ah — ah!' she gasped, tremulous but 
triumphant, ' then it is so ; he has a fancy 
wife,' and her quick brain fell to pondering 
a plan for discovery and revenge. 

The first thing to be done was to lure her 
' man ' Into a false security by subtle com- 
miseration with him on the ' slackness ' of 
trade, as also by a wonderful submissiveness, 
even to the extent of going without bacon 



i68 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

for breakfast in order that she might save 
enough to buy him tobacco. Now this form 
of procedure with a selfish man usually 
produces excellent results. If he is suffi- 
ciently selfish, he does not stay to inquire 
why or wherefore, but takes all he can, as 
a cat her cream, without delay, without a 
thank you — nay, unlike tabby, without even 
an inward purr. 

It was so with Geordie, who began incon- 
tinently to brag about his ' missus's trainin',' 
and how he was 'champion' at ' fettlin' a 
wife's nonsense,' and, swollen with self-satis- 
faction, began now to treat her with a sort of 
contemptuous toleration. 

A fortnight or so after Mary had made 
trial of her puddings, Geordie carelessly 
mentioned the fact that he would be away 
over the ' week-end ' in and about Bridgeton, 
and demanded some ' brass ' from her for the 
replenishing of his ' pack.' 

Outwardly submissive, she gave him five 
shillings from her small savings, but inwardly 



'GEORDIE RIDE-THE-STANG' 169 

determined that it was the last sum of money 
he should have from her. 

On Friday night Geordie departed gaily 
for Bridgeton, and on the Saturday after- 
noon Mary followed suit, clad in a thick 
cloak which might serve her for a disguise 
upon occasion. 

When she arrived there, the main street 
and market were thickly crowded with a 
swarm of holiday-making pitmen, country 
folk, farmers and their wives, hinds, male 
and female, for it was the date of the annual 
fair and hiring, of ' the general assembly ' of 
tramps, pedlars, 'tinklers' (tinkers), show- 
men, and the like, whose business it is to 
attend such gatherings. 

In such a crowd Mary felt safe from 
recognition, but it might be a difficult task 
to discover her ' man ' in all that company. 

An hour or two passed, and she had been 
up and down the long street twice without 
success ; but just as she was turning into a 
cheap refreshment-room, with ' Tea and coffy 



170 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

always redy ' written in a slovenly hand upon 
a dirty placard In the window, she caught 
the sound of a voice raised in semi-drunken 
irritation close behind her which caused her 
to turn her head hurriedly in that direc- 
tion. 

Yes, there he was without doubt, her 
Geordle, heavy with liquor already — not 
' mortal ' yet, but quarrelsome. Aha ! and 
that was the ' fancy ' wife, of course, who 
had him fast by the arm — a blousy, red- 
faced, fat-armed, big chested woman, who 
was evidently trying to persuade her charge 
to come home much ac^^alnst his inclina- 
tion. At sight of her rival — Immodest, 
gross, overpowering — Mary shrank back 
aghast, and It v;as only after a struggle with 
herself and a forcible Iteration of her wrongs, 
that she could persuade herself slowly and 
reluctantly to follow the couple in front of 
her. 

' Ho- way !' shouted Geordie ; ' there's Tom 
Turnbull ower by there tryin' tl lift weights 



'GEORDIE RIDE-THE-STANG' 171 

an- show 's strength. Wey, but Tom cannet 
lift weights, he's nowt but a wee bit beggor. 
Tom, thoo beggor!' he challenged across the 
intervening throng of heads, ' thoo cannet 
lift weights ; wey, Aa'l lift weights wi' thoo 
for a bottle o' whisky !' 

. Ho- way, then, thoo aad fightin'-cock ! but 
/Va o-ive thoo fair warnin' Aa can beat thoo, 
for Aa's champion.' 

At this, the 'fancy' wife seized her 'man 
firmly by the sleeve, fearing doubtless lest, 
in his then ' muzzy ' condition. Geordie would 
waste the scanty remainder of his brass upon 
a vain endeavour, and, by way of effectually 
dissuading him, indiscreetly praised his nval s 

prowess. 

' No, no, Geordie, my man, come this way, 
an' cive us my fairin' ; wey, there's a mort 
o' things ti see yet ; there's the shuttm'- 
gall'ry, an' the twa-headed cat, an the giant, 
an' the fat woman, an' aal-ho-way. Ay, an 
Geordie, hinny, Tom Turnbull's tarr'ble 
clivvor at liftin' they handles things an 



172 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

drivin' the bolt up the stick wi' the hammer, 
an' Aas warn'd but he'll bang thoo at that 
game.' 

* Tom Turnbull !— that haalf-grown, bandy- 
legged beggor ov a bit tailor ov a man bang 
me ? Gox ! but Aa'll larn him a lesson. 
Aa'll cut his comb, Aa's warn'd !' and Geordie 
forthwith, murmuring maledictions, thrust 
blindly through the crowd till he reached 
the spot where his rival stood, the centre 
of an admiring circle of friends. 

' Noo,' cried Geordie, turning up his wrist- 
cuffs, ' Aa'll show thoo hoo the thing's done 
when it's done proper. Wey, this bolt '11 
hit the beam at the top when Aa gie the 
stump a bat !' and without more ado — amidst 
the jeers of some, and the encouragement of 
a few false friends — he seized the hammer, 
swung it round his head, and brought it 
down some feet wide of the mark — smash 
upon the cobble-stones of the market-place. 
'That's done the business!' cried Geordie 
triumphantly, conscious from the stinging of 



'GEORDIE RIDE-THE-STANG ' 173 

his hands that he had ' gi'en it a champion 
bat,' and certain that he had driven up the 
bolt some feet above his rival's mark. 

Through the roar of laughter, which 
Geordie complacently accepted as the proper 
accompaniment of Tom's defeat, a voice 
pierced suddenly with a shrill note as of 
a fife. 

' Thoo great clumsy lubbert, see what 
thoo's done ! Thoo's broke the hammer's 
head off! That's half a crown, my man, for 
the hammer, an' a penny for the shot ; an' if 
thoo disn't hand it ower. Til call the pollis, 
for it's fair takin' the livin' oot ov a poor 
weeda woman's mouth to break her hammer 
thet fashion !' and a thin-faced female, with a 
red-lined nose, sharp cheekbones, and watery 
eyes, held up two skinny fists in anger against 
him. 

'Gan on, woman, gan on!' retorted Geordie 
indignantly ; * wey, it's thoo sh'd pay us, or 
gie us a cigyar, or a cokienut ; for that bat o' 
mine hit the bull's-eye, Aa's warned.' 



174 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

The shrill-voiced female renewed her pro- 
testations, and some of the bystanders joined 
in with additional explanations ; but Geordie 
would have none of them. ' Gan on,' he 
retorted ; ' gan awa home, an' wesh yor 
feyce ! Wey, the hammer's as rotten as 
pash, for Aa brought her fair doon like a pick 
reet on top o' the stump. What else should 
maa hands be tinglin' for T 

The proprietress of the hammer, however, 
continued to assail Geordie with abuse, while 
at the same time the ' fancy ' wife upon his 
other side endeavoured to drag him away, so 
that it need not surprise us if Geordie 
suddenly lost his temper, and turned heavily 
upon his tormentors. 

He shook off the one, and flung down a 
shilling in payment of the supposed damage 
to the hammer ; the other — the ' fancy ' wife 
— he pushed roughly from him, with the 
result that she lost her balance, and fell 
whimpering in the mud, while Geordie 
lurched off to the nearest hostelry, muttering 



'GEORDIE RIDE-THE-STANG ' 175 

indignantly as he went, ' Aa's been fair 
mucked ower wi' women the day — ^just fair 
mucked ower.' 

A swift inspiration gleamed in Mary's 
mind. For the punishment of Geordie she 
had already made due preparation, and now, 
if she could only persuade the ' fancy ' wife, 
her triumph would be complete. 

She noticed the woman angrily brushing 
the muck off her 'feast gown,' and at once 
made her way up to her and touched her 
gently on the arm. ' Ay,' she said quietly, 
as the other looked up with red and testy 
face, ' an' it's the same way he treats me ;' 
holding her left hand loosely so that her 
marriage-ring was plainly conspicuous. 

' So he has a lawful wife, an' yore her ?' 
And the speaker gave a suspicious, all- 
embracing stare. ' Well,' she continued 
slowly, jealousy slipping, like some slow 
portcullis, from her eyes, ' he's had a change, 
has my lord ! Forst, it was a thin lass like 
yorsel', an' noo it's a plump one like me. 



176 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

Ay, he's greedy, is Geordie ; he winna be 
content wi' the one, like Jack Spratt, but 
wants both.' 

*Ay, lass,' replied the other woman quietly, 
* yore right : he's greedy an' selfish. That's 
the sort — a selfish good-like nowt, that lives 
on women, makes them keep him through life 
just as one does a babby ; an' he's treated 
the pair ov us shameful — just shameful ; but, 
hinny, I've a plan for a bit payment for him, 
an' if ye come aside a bit wi' me, I'll tell ye 
o't.' And she laid an appealing hand upon 
the other's, and affected with the disengaged 
one to brush the remaining dirt from the 
' fancy ' wife's skirt. 

* Well, what is't ?' said the latter, suffering 
herself to be led through the crowd to a quiet 
corner. 

Mary at once proceeded, but with a cautious 
self-effacement, to detail her schemes for 
Geordie's discomfiture. ' It will not hurt 
him,' she protested, as her rival still sat 
silent, * but it will pay him a bit for the way 



'GEORDIE RIDE-THE-,STANG' 177 

he's treated us ' — here Mary's hand again 
occupied itself with the soiled dress — ' and 
it will give ye the laugh over him. I've done 
wiv him mysel ; I'm awa to France to-night 
or morning — that's where Grandfeyther was 
bred ; he came to these parts selling onions 
at first, an' finally settled doon here to 
'scape the soldierin'. An' I've money 
enough to pay the expenses,' she continued ; 
' an' for suthin' to eat an' drink an' the 
ticket.' 

The ' fancy ' wife looked at her somewhat 
hardly, suspicion rising to the surface of her 
eye. ' An' sae yore ofT to France, are ye ?' 
she queried ; * ay, an' yore tired ov him ? 
Well, mevvies he would say as he was tired 
o' thoo ; but I've a grudge again' him for the 
way he's treat us to-day, spendin' aal my 
brass ower himsel' an' clartin' my gown an' 
all, an' I'll pay him for't, I's warn'd.' And 
her face darkened vindictively. 

' That's right,' replied Mary swiftly. ' And 
now for the plan. Here's money for you to 
12 



178 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

treat him with. Get him awa oot o' the 
public before he's had too much, an' bring 
him along wi' you by the last train from 
Bridgeton, an' I'll meet you wi' the ''stang" 
ready for lilm, an' the lads, an' the music, an' 
all. Oh, but it'll all gan fine, ye-es, ye-es !' 

So Mary, having handed over all that she 
could spare to her rival, departed for the 
railway-station with a view to catching an 
earlier train, and revising her preparations at 
the other end. 

Her elation was complete. The only 
possible flaw in her subtly-devised plan lay 
in the moods of the 'fancy' wife. If Geordie 
continued to treat her roughly — and as he had 
now evidently settled down to the drink, he 
was almost certain to do so — she would be 
true to the arrangement ; if not, she might 
relent, and keep Geordie from his house that 
night. 

^ "jr "7? •/? '7C 

The train was overdue, and Mary waited 
with a feverish expectation at the station's 



' GEORDIE RIDE-THE-STANG ' 179 

descent amidst a small crowd of young men 
and boys to whom the idea of making anyone 
' ride the stang ' had appealed with an 
irresistible sense of novelty. 

The custom, indeed, was obsolete, but all 
had heard of it, and the older men had often 
witnessed it in their youth, and some of them 
had collected near the station to criticise and 
superintend the performance. 

The ' stang ' itself was in readiness — 
having been lent to Mary on this occasion 
by the schoolmaster and antiquary of the 
village, whose father had been, as constable, 
its custodian in the old days. 

And now at last the rumble of an 
approaching train was audible, and the group 
at once assumed an alert and eager air. 

A crowd of tired excursionists slowly 
descended the narrow path from the station, 
men and women together, but there was no 
sign of Geordie or the ' fancy ' wife. Mary's 
heart grew heavy within her ; after all, then, 
she would have to depart without that sweet 
12 — 2 



i8o TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

morsel — her revenge. The * fancy ' wife 
must have relented and informed Geordie of 
her plans. 

' Ho- way,' cried a man in her ear, ' he's not 
comin' back the night ; thoo's gi'en him a 
orliff mevvies.' 

* Stay !' cried she swiftly, detaining him by 
the arm. ' What's that, then ?' she whispered 
triumphantly, as at the tail of the procession 
of pleasure-seekers a couple became visible 
descending fitfully with wayward lurches. 

' See there !' continued Mary eagerly, ' it's 
Geordie an' his "fancy" wife with him. 
Catch tight baud of him, an' mount him, 
an' carry him through the length o' the 
village on the " stang " — right to his very 
door; he canna get in though, for I've the 
key i' my pocket,' and Mary laughed with an 
Inward glee. 

Down came the couple slowly, Geordie 
abusing his companion, as he lurched against 
her heavily, for not progressing with more 
even footsteps, the woman saying nothing, 



'GEORDIE RIDE-THE-STANG' i8i 

but tightly gripping him by the arm, in order, 
doubtless, to keep him upright and also to 
prevent any attempt at escape. 

The wicket-gate swung open, Geordie 
lurched through, and in a moment he was 
seized, hoisted into the air, a rough pole 
thrust through his legs, and the triumphal 
march began to the tune of a penny whistle, 
played by the local champion, a carter to 
trade, and a number of Jews' harps and toy 
trumpets with which a herd of small boys 
poured forth discordant revel. 

' Gox ! Aa's fallen intiv a sorcus (circus),' 
cried Geordie, in the first moment of 
astonishment, then, ' Leave haud ov us, ye 

great flamin' Irish What the devil's 

this Aa's astride o' ?' adding with solemn 
dignity, ' Yore makin' a tarr'ble mistake. 
Aa's not Blondin, tl walk on a tight rope for 
ye ; Aa's Geordie Campbell o' the Raa (Row), 
whe lives i' the hoos wi' the brass handle tiv't.' 

' Ay, ay, we knaa thoo !' cried the chorus 
of urchins ; ' thoo's Geordie, drunken Geordie, 



i82 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

Geordle wi' the " fancy " wife. Geordle, 
Geordie ride-the-stang ! Eh, what a clivvor 
rider is Geordie ! Thoo's a proper jockey, 
Geordie, an' thoo'll mevvies ride the winner 
i' *' the Plate"* before thoo's finished wiv it.' 

This idea tickled the carriers of the 
* stang,' and Geordie's bearers were forthwith 
transformed into thorough-breds with a 
tendency to buck-jump. Hither and thither 
he rolled, dazed and bewildered, helplessly 
clutching at the heads of those near him for 
support, but his arms were seized, his legs 
tightly crossed below the * stang,' and he 
swung from side to side, while the rougher 
boys, chanting rude doggerel over him, 
gathered and threw mud upon him. A 
trombone and a ' sarpint ' here joined the 
noisy crowd, and to the varied strains of 
' The Campbells are coming,' ' Weel may the 
keel row,' and ' Canny Dog Cappie,' Geordie 
was borne in triumph up the Row. 

A 'furrinor' (foreigner, stranger) here joined 

* The Northumberland Plate. 



^GEORDIE RIDE-THE-STANG' 183 

the medley, a ' South countryman ' from York- 
shire, who, chancing to have lately come to 
the village after some private experience ot 
his own in stang-riding in one of the remoter 
Yorkshire vales, at once placed his services 
at the crowd's disposal. 

Marching at the head of the procession, 
like the drum-major of a band, and beating 
together two saucepan-lids, he led the 
anthem. 

Between the ' cling, cling, cling ' of the 

lids his voice rose lustily : 

' Ah tinkle, ah tinkle, ah tinkle tang, 
It's not foor your part nor mah part 
'At ah ride the stang, 

But foor you, Geordie Robertson, who his wife 
did bang.' 

Scarcely had he ended when the shrill 

trebles of the boys took up the wondrous 

tale, and in antiphony chanted their response : 

* Up wiv a bump and down wiv a bang 
Gans Geordie, Geordie ride-the-stang : 
A bump an' a bang for his deed sae wrang. 
An' we'll larn him a lesson for ever sae lang.' 

Then, to the full chorus, with complete 



i84 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

orchestra of Hute and fife^ trombone and 
triangle, tin whistle and ' sarpint,' brass pot, 
pan, and saucepan-lids, the entire procession 
moved slowly onward. 

Mary's eyes burned bright with exultation 
as she marched along in the crowd, not 
letting a single incident of the spectacle 
escape her notice, and as she watched she 
too joined in the chorus of ' Geordie, Geordie 
ride-the-stang ' without restraint. 

The sound of the familiar voice roused 
the victim from the stupor into which the 
hustling, peltings, and shoutings had reduced 
him. 

* Thoo ,' he yelled, as he caught sight 

of her ; ' then it's thoo that's at the bottom 

o* this ? By, but if Aa wes free Aa'd ' 

But a stalk of cabbage thrown at a venture 
by a small boy on the skirts of the crowd 
here impeded his utterance, and Mary's voice 
rang out perhaps more triumphantly than 
before. 

The ' fancy ' wife, meanwhile, who had at 



* GEORDIE RIDE-THE-STANG ' 185 

first discreetly retired from public view 
and looked on at the procession from a 
distance, had shortly after joined the noisy 
throng, moved thereto by a sense of isola- 
tion, and also by a certain smouldering 
compunction. She looked around her irreso- 
lutely ; she felt she had acted precipitately ; 
certainly she was not deriving any advantage 
from the proceedings, whereas her rival was 
the leader of the revelry, dancing, clapping her 
hands, and carrying on like a ' Maypole lass.' 
At this moment Mary inadvertently 
brushed against her, and in a moment the 
' fancy ' wife turned upon her like a spitfire. 
Clenching her fists and shouting vitupera- 
tions, she tried to seize her by the hair. 
Foiled in this by an adroit swerve of Mary's 
under the 'stang,' she turned her fury upon 
Geordie's bearers, and with such success that 
to defend themselves they were forced to 
lower the pole to the ground. ' Noo, 
Geordie,' cried she, promptly thrusting the 
wooden weapon into his hands, ' mak' play 



i86 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

wiv it, my man, ho-way,' and Geordie, realiz- 
ing he was now free, lunged furiously in all 
directions, and scattered the crowd like chaff 
before him. 

Steered by his ' fancy ' wife, a way grew 
clear about them, and Geordie marched 
slowly, unsteadily forward, bearing the 
' stang ' like a battering-ram straight in 
front of him, down the remaining length of 
the Row, accompanied at a respectful dis- 
tance by a rabble of the smaller urchins. 

Right on past his house he went, out into 
the darkness beyond, and over the bridge 
at the end of the village, still tightly grasping 
the ' stang ' himself, and tightly grasped in 
his turn by his ' fancy ' wife. 

The last train to Oldcastle happened to 
pass above the bridge at that moment, and 
a head leant far out through a carriage 
window. 

' Ay !' a clear voice sounded, with a touch 
of derision on the night air — ' Ay ! that's 
riorht, baud him tio^ht, for he wants it badlies.' 



YANKEE BILL AND QUAKER 
JOHN 

QUAKER JOHN was one of the best 
known figures in the small seaport 
town of Old Quay. Short of stature, heavy 
of tread, always quietly attired in a black suit, 
which varied not in cut from year to year ; 
indeed, the same suit had once been known 
to do duty for three years together, till his 
wife one day, so 'twas said, handed them over 
to the chimney-sweep in mistaken identity. 
You might have told that he was of Puritan 
descent some yards away, but the ' letter of 
the law ' in him had been softened down by 
the kindly genius of the old-fashioned Quaker. 
A genial twinkle lay in hiding at the back of 
his steadfast eye, and a smile was always ' at 
heel' beside his big and honest mouth. 



i88 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

A broad and spectacled nose completed 
the portrait of one In whom the harmlessness 
as of a dove did not of necessity efface the 
wisdom of the serpent. At least, so said 
Yankee Bill, who read character ' at sight '; 
but then, Bill was a disciple of that cynical 
logic which proclaims not only all priests to 
be humbugs, but all men Immersed In busi- 
ness who make pretensions to piety to be 
hypocrites or fools. 

He had happened to pass along the street 
one 'fourth-day' morning as John came out 
of the meeting-house, and overheard him 
address a remark about business to a Quaker 
friend at his side, and thereafter was merci- 
less In ridicule. ' John's patent incubator,' 
he styled, the meeting-house. ' for plot-hatch- 
ing,' and pretended to be afraid of doing 
business with him on Wednesday afternoons 
for fear of being ' skinned.' 

Bill was a waif from the seas who had 
somehow been thrown up at Old Quay a few 
years back, and having ' prospected around ' 



YANKEE BILL AND QUAKER JOHN 189 

and * pegged out a claim ' for himself In the 
indiscriminate region of commission business, 
life insurance, advertising agencies^ secretary- 
ships, and other nebulous formative pro- 
cesses, was now almost as well - known a 
figure in the town as Quaker John him- 
self. 

The chief foundation in any abiding friend- 
ship is a certain diversity of temperament 
which those who wondered at the mutual 
liking that had sprung up between the re- 
tiring stockbroker's clerk and the worldly 
Yankee had evidently overlooked. To John 
the American's audacity was a perpetual 
delight, tempered by occasional Puritan 
scruples as to whether he was justified in 
associating with so hardened an unbeliever. 
To Bill Coody the Quaker's reposefulness 
and quiet self-sufficiency were both a sleep- 
ing-draught and irritant. 

Nothing delighted him more than to get a 
rise out of John ; but John was hard to catch, 
and even when craftily inveigled into a 



igo TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

theological argument, was extremely chary 
of entering into definite statements. Even 
when his position was most hotly assailed 
by the other, who made unsparing use of 
the argtmienhwi ad hominem^ reinforced by 
a store of malicious anecdotes of religious 
* professors ' all the world over, John never 
lost his temper, but mildly suggested that his 
antagonist was an Anarchist in disguise. 

John himself, though immersed in business 
which some of the ' plain people ' have been 
used to look askance at, lived after the simple 
fashion of the stralter sect. 

After his day's work at the office, where as 
head clerk much responsibility lay on his 
shoulders, he would go straight home and 
employ his leisure on fine days in his garden, 
and on wet days in his library, for John 
was not only a book-collector, but also a 
reader. 

One pipe of tobacco he allowed himself 
before going to bed on week days and two 
on ' first-days,' and flavoured his tobacco with 



YANKEE BILL AND QUAKER JOHN 191 

a chapter of ' George,' as he styled in affec- 
tionate intimacy his favourite author (Mr. 
Meredith) on week-days, but a portion of 
Barclay's ' Apology ' on ' first-day ' evenings. 

One evening John was sitting reading as 
usual, when the maid-servant came in to say 
that Mr. Coody wished to have a few words 
with him. ' Very well,' replied her master, 
laying aside ' George ' with a sigh, and 
wondering what business Bill might have on 
hand to come at such an untimely hour. 

In came his friend as unceremoniously as 
ever, and, sitting himself down on the sofa, 
drew vigorously at his cheroot for a minute 
or two before entering upon the topic that 
had brought him thither. 

' Look here, John,' he exclaimed all at 
once, * you're a confidential cuss, 1 guess, 
and I've got a scheme on hand that will 
''scoop the boodle" if properly carried out ; 
and what I want to know is, whether your 
people will take a hand in it or no. It's a 
certain thing, and will go ahead like a runaway 



192 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

buggy anyway ; but the less friction the 
better, so that if your people will grease the 
wheels a bit, so much the better for them 
and all consarned.' 

'Tell me precisely what It is,' replied John 
cautiously, ' then I may be able to offer an 
opinion ; but, of course, I can't say off-hand 
whether the firm will entertain the idea or 
not.' 

'Waal,' replied Bill, 'I guess you're the 
firm pretty often, for your bosses are generally 
away huntin' or shootin' or foolln' around 
somewhere ; anyway, your advice is generally 
listened to, I guess. Waal, to come to 
business. I'm fixin' up a new store on the 
most modern principles. I sell everything 
cheaper than anybody else anywhere in this 
little country of yours ; any bloomin' thing 
that's asked for, why, it's there, delivered free 
to any part of the United Kingdom. Every- 
body comes along — Noah's Ark on a wet 
day ain't In it for the pushin' there'll be at 
our doors once we get opened out — and, 



YANKEE BILL AND QUAKER JOHN 193 

another thing, everybody gets made Into an 
automatic shareholder ; for profits have to 
He till they reach ^5, when each man, 
woman, and child gets a share given them, 
will they, nill they — and you bet, John, they 
will. I tell you, the thing's fixed up, and is 
goin' to give Old Quay shocks. Why, I'm 
buyin' up here and there bankrupt stocks 
enough to bust the place with — planners, 
hardware, bicycles, rose-trees, fam'ly Bibles, 
rat-traps — every taste will be suited, for I 
tell you cosmopolitanism ain't in it with Bill 
Coody. I tell you I'll be in a position to 
bust every single bicycle dealer in this little 
one-hoss place ; every planner dealer can shut 
up shop when I get started. Why, there 
won't be a pitman in Northumberland who 
hasn't got a demi-grand Eureka B. C. piano 
in his house in another three weeks' time, and 
every colliery village will have its Bayreuth 
Festival with ''Canny Dog Cappie " and 
*'Weel may the keel row" tinklin' away 
down each row.' 

13 



194 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

' But think of the poor shopkeeper !' John 
interrupted, aghast at this slaughter of the 
innocents. 

' Now, John,' expostulated Bill, as one 
who reproves a child for foolishness, ' it's not 
"first-day," and you ain't "in meeting," so 
stick to business, if yo2i please. Waal, the 
thing's got to go, as I'm say in', and the only 
question is, are your people goin' to join in 
or no ? If not, I bust their little donkey 
go-cart of Supply Stores v/hich they set up 
a few years back in South Street " for the 
mutual encouragement of thrift and the supply 
of the best articles at first-hand cost " as the 
prospectus says, combinin' philanthropy and 
five per cent, plus their commission on float- 
in' the shop. Now, I know how much they 
have in it, your bosses. J. B. has 10,000 
shares, and young T. he has 5,000 out of a 
total of 30,000, so they're the largest share- 
holders in the concern, but Bill Coody has 
shares in it, too, John, he or his nominees. 
Likely you've noticed the shares have been 



YANKEE BILL AND QUAKER JOHN 195 

jumpin' up a bit lately and been wonderin' 
what the jooce was up, eh ?' 

' Yes,' responded John quietly, endeavour- 
ing to conceal any disquietude he might feel ; 
'yes, I've noticed that.' 

' Waal, we've got enough to bust their 
shop up pretty well, and if your people don't 
come into my showyard I'll give their shares 
away with a pound of tea,' and here he pulled 
out a handful of certificates from his trousers' 
pocket and flourished them in John's face, 
which was gradually growing longer as the 
other unrolled his arguments. 

' But how did you get the necessary 
capital ?' John inquired after a pause, pro- 
fessional curiosity piqued at this unexpected 
revelation of means. 

'Waal,' replied the American, as he care- 
lessly lit another cheroot, expectorating with 
relish into John's carefully-trimmed fire, ' I'll 
tell you straight out, for I'm one of them 
that goes straight to the point — fibbin' ain't 
in it with truthfulness, and bluffin's no orood 



196 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

when the cards are on the table. Waal, I 
bank with the Old Bank here, and decent 
enough people they are, too, but a trifle slow, 
so no sooner did the Joint Stock Bank open 
out a new branch In Old Quay than In I go, 
and I says, " Look here, boss, I want ^5,000 
of the ready, and I'll bring you business," I 
says. Well, the boss rubs his hands in 
butter, and he says, " Sartlnly, sartlnly, 
Mr. Coody, we know your name well, sir ; 
most happy to oblige, I'm sure, and much 
obliged If you could Introduce us to a few of 
your friends," so after a bit more palaver and 
a deposit of some shares the deal's done. 
Waal down the street goes Bill Coody, and 
into the parlour of the Old Bank, and says 
to the partners straight out : '' Now, look 
here, gentlemen, there's no beatin' about the 
bush with me, and no frivolity In matters of 
business, and what I want Is ^5,000 straight 
down, which is the figure Fve just been 
offered by the new Joint Stock Bank over 
the way. Now I like your style," I says, 



YANKEE BILL AND QUAKER JOHN 197 

''and I should be sorry to leave you; but 
sentiment's not my style of doin' business, 
so there you have it," Wall, the old gentle- 
man looked at me over his spectacles, same 
way as you do, John, and under his spectacles 
also, and offers me a pinch of snuff, while he 
and his partner waggle their heads together 
in a far-off corner of the room. Waal, after a 
bit more palaver and a little "pi " jaw thrown 
in gratis about the evils of speculating and 
a hope that a strange bank will not interfere 
with mutual friendly business relations, that 
deal's done, and Bill Coody has ^10,000 to 
draw upon by feedin'-time that morning. 

'Waal, John, I think you'll have the hang 
of it now, and will be able to advise your 
bosses as to what's best for them and the 
community, too, at large, and I want an 
answer — a regular business-like document — 
signed, sealed, and delivered, by this time 
to-morrow night, for there's a shipload of 
my goods in already and lyin' at the quay, 
and I can't let the thing dry-rot while two 



igS TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

thickheads worry the situation out and try 
to tinker up a mind between them. So fix 
it up for them, John, yourself. Ta-ta ; I 
must be off. There's a chap waitin' for me 
at the club on business.' And rising as 
he spoke, he went as unceremoniously as 
he came, leaving a trail of rank tobacco 
that was as penetrating to John's nostrils 
as his communications had been to his in- 
tellect. 

John lit his pipe again, which had gone 
out as he listened to Bill's scheme, and 
thought for a while how 'George' would have 
dealt with the situation ; how his penetrating 
intellect would have pierced through Bill's 
armour - plating, and revealed the naked 
artificer within. 

Ah ! if * George ' had only been there for 
five minutes, several of the questions that 
were troubling him might have received 
instant solution. He could not feel certain 
how far Bill meant business with his store. 
It was not all bluff, of course ; but how much 



YANKEE BILL AND QUAKER JOHN 199 

of it was bluff, how much business, he could 
not of himself determine. 

It might be that he wanted to be bought 
off at a price, or be offered a post upon the 
directorate, or was merely a ' bull ' of the 
shares. However, one thing was certain : 
there must be no shilly-shallying. Either 
Bill must be squared or he must be defied. 

That was the question for him to deter- 
mine. No doubt, from a strictly business 
point of view, the chief matter to be con- 
sidered was which of the two courses was 
likely to prove most beneficial to his princi- 
pals ; but the thought of the poor shopkeepers 
was present in John's mind, and operated 
largely in Influencing his mind in the direction 

of defiance. There was poor old Mrs. S , 

for example, who kept herself and two grand- 
children on the proceeds of a small florist's 
business, once her son-in-law's. What would 
happen to her if Bill were to flood the town 
with rose-trees at a shilling the dozen ? 

To-morrow was Saturday, and Bill de- 



200 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

manded an answer by the evening. The 
next day being ' first-day,' he would have to 
satisfy his conscience — that ' still small voice ' 
which, even In the silence of the meeting, 
interrogated him severely on his dealings 
during the past week, and permitted no 
subterfuge or evasive answer — and it was 
useless to think he could do so by pleading 
that he was only a subordinate, not an official, 
in this affair of the store. Well, so be it. 
It must be defiance, then— war to the knife — 
if Bill was in earnest ; for to offer to put him 
on the directorate of the supply stores would 
merely mean setting up Bill's store under the 
old title. 

John sat late as he pondered over the 
situation. Suddenly one of the Articles of 
Association of the stores fiamed within the 
chamber of his brain, and a twinkle shone in 
his eye, as he reflected that it should enable 
him to mate Bill's cleverness at the very 
outset. 

Bill had quoted from the prospectus, but 



YANKEE BILL AND QUAKER JOHN 201 

he had evidently overlooked the Articles of 
Association, and John chuckled to himself 
delightedly as he recalled Article 5. 

Shortly after seven next morning John 
might have been observed taking the air 
upon the quay, casting shrewd glances as 
he passed along. He had some suspicions 
concerning the amount of value of Bill's con- 
signment of pianos, family Bibles, etc., and 
he thought he might possibly discover some- 
thing for himself if he saw what vessels were 
lying at the quay. 

There was a green-hulled brigantine from 
Norway lying alongside, but she was full of 
battens and pit-props ; a steam-collier lay 
next, but she must simply be waiting there 
for stores or sailing orders. A tramp came 
next, apparently from. America, by the labels 
on some of her packages that the cranes were 
already swinging overhead. 

This, then, must be Bill's consignment, for 
there was nothing else in the river or at the 
quay that John could see that could possibly 



202 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

have anything on board for Bill or his 
stores. 

As he stood there immersed in thought, 
a figure appeared on the deck above him, 
and, leaning his arms on the taffrail, regarded 
the scene below him with a gloomy air. ' The 
skipper,' thought John, as he noted his blue 
broadcloth and peaked cap, and on the spur 
of a sudden inspiration immediately accosted 
him. 

' Fine morning, captain. I happen to have 
heard a rumour to the effect that you were 
wanting an offer for your cargo. If so, I 
might possibly get you an offer from a friend 
of mine — at a reasonable figure, of course.' 

* Waal,' replied the other slowly, ' I guess 
Fm ready for a deal, as the consignees are 
bust up, and only 25 per cent, of the freight 
paid for ; but it's not a knock-out, I tell ye, 
for Fve had a bid already for the lot.' 

' Was it from a man they call Bill Coody, 
by any chance ?' asked John, with a fine 
carelessness. 



YANKEE BILL AND QUAKER JOHN 203 

' Waal,' replied the skipper, as he turned 
his quid, ' his name's nothin' to me, so long 
as he has the ready. Mr. Cash Is the gent I 
do business with ; but If my memory sarves 
me right, I think Bill Coody was the name 
on his pasteboard.' 

* What precisely Is the cargo ?' queried 
John. ' Is it dry-store goods — organs, pianos, 
and such like commodities ?' 

*Ay, that's about what It Is — all the sort 
o' fixin's that make a harmonious home for 
the retired commercial gent — organs, melo- 
deons, brick-a-bacs, articles of virtoo and 
amusement combined ; and a fine variety of 
wood goods besides. Waal, If you're for a 
deal you must be sharp about it, for I've to 
fix up with Mr. Coody by ten o'clock this 
mornin', and I leave again this afternoon, 
havin' just signed a fresh charter party for a 
cargo of fireclay bricks. So name your figure, 
plank down the cash, and I'm ready to deal.' 

'Well, what did Mr. Coody offer you?' 
asked John pertinently. 



204 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

* Three hundred pounds in bank notes,' 
replied the skipper; 'but I'll take ;^400 to 
clear ; and dirt cheap, too, when you think 
o' what a nest o' nightingales your fam ly 
and friends will be at ten dollars a head.' 

'Thank you,' said John, as he moved 
away; 'I'll just go round and have a talk 
with my friend, and will let you know the 
result before ten o'clock.' 

' Right,' replied the captain, cutting himself 
a fresh plug of tobacco ; ' ,^400 down, coin 
o' the realm, before ten, mind ye, and your 
friend's set up for life with a ''house 
beautiful " that Solomon in all his glory and 
Mrs. Sheba couldn't have fixed up better 
between them.' 

'What a curious, profane, hard-featured 
set of men these Americans are 1' thought 
John, as he stepped briskly away in the 
direction of his senior partner's house. 
' Why, the mind of that skipper Is exactly 
of the same temper as Bill's ; his features 
are as Irregular, even his voice has the same 



YANKEE BILL AND QUAKER JOHN 205 

twanging, nasal habit. However, he means 
business evidently, and I think I can per- 
suade Mr. William to buy up his cargo, 
which will put, I imagine, a pretty stiff spoke 
in Bill's wheel.' 

Within a quarter of an hour John was on 
Mr. William's doorstep, and ten minutes 
afterwards was explaining the strategical 
position to the senior partner in his dressing- 
gown. 'Certainly, John,' said Mr. William 
slowly, after listening attentively to John's 
recital ; * we couldn't possibly have Coody 
on our Board ; it wouldn't do at all. Why, 
he's a mere adventurer, and his method of 
under-cutting, ''busting" people up, etc., would 
bring discredit upon our firm and have a bad 
effect upon our business. No, it's quite 
evident, John, as you say, that we can't 
square him — as to how far he means business, 
I don't know. I incline to think he is bluffing 
us ; but there isn't time to find out how much 
he has up his sleeve ; and if we buy up this 
cargo we trump his ace, you think, and can 



2o6 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

make a profit out of it ourselves at the stores 
after ? Well, I daresay you're right, John ; 
and, after all, ^400 won't ruin us. We buy 
his cargo, and as he can't '' bear " the shares, 
he'll be like a chained dog showing his teeth, 
but doing no damage. Yes, I think it is an 
excellent idea, John,' Mr. William said in 
conclusion, 'and if you'll wait one minute I'll 
give you the cheque for ^400.' 

By ten o'clock that morning John had 
completed his defences ; the cargo was 
bought ; he held an indemnity against any 
claims from the skipper and owners of the 
goods in question ; he had made an Inquiry 
at the Old Bank, and now was sitting down 
at the office to write a short note marked 
' private ' to Bill, to tell him it was to be ' war 
to the knife.' 

' And I may tell thee. Bill, that thee had 
better give in with a good grace ; for. In the 
first place, thee cannot sell the shares below 
par — vide the Articles of Association, para- 
graph 10 — and, in the second, we have 



YANKEE BILL AND QUAKER JOHN 207 

bought up thy cargo ; and, finally, I feel 
assured that stores managed on thy suggested 
lines would never bring a blessing with them. 
Thou saidst it was to be "war to the knife," 
but we hope thee will think better of it, for 
thy sake more than for our own,' and with a 
friendly warning John finished his letter, and 
despatched it by hand to ' William Coody, Esq.' 
Late that afternoon, just as John was 
leaving the office, a letter was brought to 
him in Bill's handwriting. It ran as follows : 

' Ta-ta, John, I'm off, you quaint, cocked- 
hat old Puritan Precisian ; but I couldn't 
leave without having tried a fall with you 
first, and, on totting it up, I think Bill 
Goody's just had a trifle the best of the 
melee. If I'd got on to the stores, I'd have 
stayed in this derned little one-hoss place, 
but those all-fired articles* upset that cart. 

* '•Article 5. — No shares shall be dealt in below their 
face value except with the consent of the Board of 
Directors.' 



2o8 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

I'll allow you that, John ; but I have you, 
my boy, over that little cargo of mine. 
Why, the whole show was a got-up job, the 
cargo saw-dust, salvage stocks worth ^20 at 
an outside figure. The skipper, being a pal 
of mine, lent me his duds, this morning, for I 
knew you'd be down there sniffing and 
spectacling about with the morning's sunrise, 
and I had the show ready for you, John, to 
walk into, and in you walked like blue blazes. 
The ^400 will about pay for my trouble, and 
for the premiums on the store shares. Your 
principals will have to buy the shares back 
from the banks — they mustn't buy below par, 
though, John — you remind them of that. 

' I've sold my biz., and am off with my pal, 
the skipper, this moment. No time to hand- 
shake. Ta-ta, John, and bear no malice. 
Stick to piety and 5 per cent., and don't buy 
up bankrupt cargoes, and you'll be Lord 
Mayor of Old Quay before you're finished. 
So long, your pardner, 

' Bill Coody.' 



THE PROT]6g6 

THE Vale of the Frolic in the far west of 
Northumberland had always been a 
favourite retreat of mine. As I trudged the 
London pavements in the dog-days before 
the Law Courts rose, my heart panted for 
the green hills and the sweet silences of 
remotest Frolicdale. 

The chiefest charm of the vale perhaps for 
me lay in the fact that it was a track un- 
trodden by the tourist, resembling the maid 
of the waters of Dove in this — that it was 
one which, as yet, there were * few to know, 
and very few to love.' 

It was a pastoral, sheep-raising country- 
side, inhabited by shepherds almost entirely, 
who were at the same time farmers also, for 
14 



210 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

their tenure was something after the metayer 
order. 

There was nothing to mar the quaint and 
antique flavour of existence. The post, Hke 
our lifeboat institution, was here supported 
by voluntary contributions. If anyone were 
'gannin' up the wattor,' well and good ; he 
would take the letters with him. If not, 
then they were left at the schoolmaster's till 
called for. Newspapers, again, with the 
exception of a weekly Courant or a Scots 
Mail, were, like the woodcock, but * occasional 
visitors ' in that region ; and when it is added 
that the house I usually stayed at was situ- 
ated eighteen miles from a terminus of 
a slow branch line of the North British 
Railway Company, it will be evident that the 
ordinary tourist had a very poor chance of 
putting in an appearance in that favoured 
region. 

I was recalling all these little details with 
infinite gusto as I sat down at my desk to 
write to my friend the Presbyterian minister 



THE PROTEGE 211 

and schoolmaster of Fair-Green Haugh, 
suggesting a visit from myself a week 
ahead. 

The answer came just in time for me to 
pack up and start within the week. 

* I am sorry to say,' wrote my friend in 
conclusion, ' that my accommodation is some- 
what limited this summer, as I have had to 
give up my small sanctum to a protege of 
mine, who, though he has just been discharged 
from gaol, will yet, I feel assured, become a 
highly useful and respectable member of 

society. 

' I know your kind heart, my friend,' he 
continued, ' and feel sure you will not regret 
a temporary lack of comfort in so good a 
cause. You can always use the schoolroom, 
as it is holiday time, for reading, writing and 
smoking.' 

♦Heavens!' I murmured to myself, as I 

took in the monstrous situation ; ' fancy 

having to spend my vacation trying to 

improve an infernal burglar! He knows 

14^2 



212 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

my kind heart, he says. Well, it only 
proves the truth of the poet's lines : 

' " Not e'en the dearest heart, and next our own, 
Knows half the reasons why we smile or cry." 

I wonder,' I soliloquized, ' whether he is 
of the heavy, hang-dog, dropped-jaw type 
— the knifing variety, in brief — or the other 
species — the shifty-eyed, chinless, quick but 
evil brained sort. On the whole, I prefer the 
first, for if he cannot control his temper, at 
any rate you know where you are with him, 
whereas with the latter you never can tell 
what he may be up to.' 

Anyway, it was exasperating, for here had 
I been congratulating myself upon the sweet 
security of my proposed retreat, only to dis- 
cover at the last moment that I was destined 
to become co-warder of a criminal. 

However, it was no use making myself 
miserable before the time, and as I was at any 
rate now free from the choking London atmo- 
sphere I could revel in the thought of fresh 
country air, liberty and leisure. 



THE PROTEGE 213 

I stayed the night at Heath town (famous 
for the church wherein Bernard Gilpin, ' the 
apostle of the north,' stayed the hot Borderers 
from feud), and, drawing the heather-honeyed 
air deep into my lungs, felt my strength so 
renewed that the thoughts of shifting the 
ticket-of-leave gentleman if he didn't, in 
North-country phrase, ' keep a civil tongue 
in his held and behave hlssel' respectable,' 
positively inspired me with pleasure. 

The postman in his cart was, as it chanced, 
going up to the little village, styled a ' toon,' 
where the last post and telegraph-office this 
side of Scotland is situated, and insisted upon 
giving me a ' cast ' so far upon my road. 

' No, nowse is changed ava,' he replied, in 
answer to my query, ' syne ye were last here, 
save belikely that we are aal a year older, an' 
that Farmer Newton's missus was broug^ht 
tae bed wi' anither bairn a month ago last 
Saterday. Ye'll mind she had her fourth 
bairn the last time ye were here, an' Farmer 
Newton, he says he'll just hae tae turn priest. 



214 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

an' get the Sixstanes livln',* an' there, ye ken, 
the Queen sends ye a ten-pound note for 
every addition tae yor fam'ly ; an' though 
there might not be ower muckle profit in it, 
it wud help tae keep the pot a-boiHng, says 
he. But I'm thinkin' mysel',' continued my 
informant reflectively, ' that if Farmer New- 
ton were tae give up shootin' an huntin' sae 
muckle, an' took a turn at farmin', he'd have 
a less reason for complaining.' 

And so we passed the time away, he 
regaling me with all the domestic gossip of 
the countryside, I interrupting him now and 
again to point out the historical objects of 
interest on either hand of us ; for, like all 
true countrymen, though he knew every 
stick and stone by the wayside, he was 
entirely ignorant of the past history of his vale. 

We were now close on the village where 
my driver ended his stage, and it suddenly 
occurred to me to inquire, as I thanked him 

* The author understands that this is the case in regard 
to some of the livings in the gift of Greenwich Hospital. 



THE PROTEGE 215 

for his kindness to myself, if he knew any- 
thing of my friend's protege at the Fair 
Green Haugh. 

' Well,' he replied slowly, * I have heard as 
hoo he has ta'en up wi' a convick or gaol-bord 
o' that description. Wey, I canna tell. He'd 
muckle better hae getten'd hissel' marrit ; an' 
sartinly we divvn't want that sort o' specie 
up this wattor-side. We hevn't muckle gear 
belike^ but we prefer tae keep wor ain. He'll 
be ain o' the lifting kind likelies, the same 
as thae moss-troopin' fellers ye were crackin' 
on aboot enoo whae divvn't seem ivvor tae 
hae heard on the fifth commandment. Ye'll 
be weel employed this holiday-time o' yors 
wi' lookin' efter him, I's warn'd. But yo're 
a lawyer chap,' he continued, ' an' dootless 
ye'll find an excuse tae shift him wi'. Put on 
yor wig, an' nae doot but it will tarrify him.' 

I thanked the speaker for his advice some- 
what ruefully, for his words exactly fitted my 
own presentiment. 

Having bade adieu to my postman friend, 



2i6 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

and arranged for my heavier luggage to be 
sent forward In the next carrier's cart that 
might be going 'up the wattor,' I set out 
across the hills to The Nook on Fair Green 
Haugh with my knapsack on my back. 

Two hours' walking brought me within 
view of The Nook, and as I paused at the 
top of the brae to drink in the well-beloved 
aspect of the small ' bigging ' that sheltered 
in the green coign between Windy Law and 
Blind Burn side, I noticed the figure of a 
man carrying a small child in his arms. 

I knew most of the inhabitants of the vale 
by sight, but the aspect of the individual in 
question was unknown to me. It was scarcely 
likely he could be a shepherd's extra hand, 
for the washing and shearing time was over, 
and a tramp in the ordinary sense of the 
term would have been, to quote from the 
ornithologists, a ' rare and occasional visitor.' 
Besides, he had not the appearance of a 
tramp ; he walked with an easy boldness, 
apparently playing with the child as he 



THE PROTEGE 217 

strolled, for as I drew nearer I cotild hear 
the child's voice gleefully crying, ' Again, 
again ; do it again, funny man.' 

As I drew nearer I looked at the stranger 
with interest, and noted that he was a well- 
made, active fellow, of good proportions. 
His face was slightly scarred, as though from 
small-pox, but not unpleasantly ; it was as if 
the disease, suddenly repenting of spoiling a 
bright and healthful countenance, had incon- 
tinently left him for another victim. 

His eyes blue, his teeth, splendidly regular, 
were clean and white as a hound's. Glancing 
at the child, I discovered her to be Maggie, 
the six-year-old child of Tom Hedley, the 
herd at Fulhope Law, so I went straight up 
to her and asked for a kiss as usual. ' No,' 
said the diminutive flirt archly, holding her 
head backwards; 'no kiss for zoo. I's got 
a new man noo,' and forthwith she buried 
her curls in his neck. ' He's a nice funny 
man,' she continued in another moment, 
peeping forth from her hiding-place, ' an' 



2i8 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

he's got nae mair hair on his held than oor 
little puppy-dog at home.' 

I glanced at her captor, and noting his 
cropped crown, jumped to a sure conclusion 
as to his Identity. ^ Why, 'tis none other,' 
thought I, ' than the protege.' Possibly he 
read my thoughts ; at any rate, releasing one 
arm, he lifted his hand to a salute, smiling, 
meanwhile, in the most affable way In the 
world. I nodded * Good afternoon,' and 
learning that the minister was within and 
waiting my arrival, turned my steps to the 
house. 

After our first greetings were over he 
commenced to apologize again for the limited 
space at my disposal, but he was certain that 
when once I had got to know his ' protege,' 
I should think no more about it. ' He Is 
a beautiful character,' he concluded enthu- 
siastically, ' one could tell that at a glance 
by the way In which children take to him. 

' I met him outside just a moment ago/ 
I replied, * and he certainly seems to have 



THE PROTEGE 219 

won little Maggie's heart, but from my recol- 
lection of her half a dozen " sweeties " would 
explain that feat. And after all,' I continued 
judicially, 'some of the greatest ruffians that 
ever lived were extremely fond of children. 
There was Herod, of course, but he was the 
exception that proves the rule.' 

* Ah,' sighed my friend, ' that terrible 
London atmosphere ! How it cankers the 
human affections! The theory of the law, 
I believe, is that every man should be con- 
sidered innocent till' he has been proved 
guilty ; but you lawyers, reversing this in 
practice, hold every man guilty till he prove 
his innocence.' 

' How about his hair ?' I inquired rather 
unkindly. 

'His hair?' my friend queried, with a 
puzzled expression. ' Oh, I see what you 
mean,' he continued almost immediately, en- 
deavouring to shed a soitpgon of a smile over 
his seriously earnest countenance. * But 
don't notice that, please, or you may make 



220 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

him reckless. For now is the critical time,' 
he added solemnly, with the professional 
manner of a physician making his diagnosis ; 
' if he gets safely over this his cure may be 
regarded as practically assured. 

* The great thing is to believe in a man, 
to cultivate little by little his sense of self- 
respect ; by " believing men to be better than 
they are," one may even, as has been so 
well said, ''make them better than they are." 
In England we have always gone on a 
wrong principle ; we worship success, worldly 
success, far too much, and have scant sym- 
pathy with the unfortunate. My friend 
outside says that he stole a leg of mutton 
for his starving daughter. The result is he 
cannot now get a situation, and his daughter 
has been taken from him, and is now in 
a home. Well, if the man be treated with 
contumely, he may very likely despair and 
give up all hope of improvement. Treat 
him well, on the other hand, and you may 
yet turn him into a useful citizen.' 



THE PROTEGE 221 

'You put a premium on wrong-doing,' 
said I, as I shook my head at his argument, 
smiling, however, at the impassioned face 
before me. 

His high, narrow forehead with the ruffled 
upstanding hair betrayed the enthusiast ; the 
broad, refined, and eager lips marked a 
perennial emotion within ; his eyes, notwith- 
standing their wonderful clarity, had a far- 
away look in the depths of them ; a spare 
form, thin wrists, and shrunken hands com- 
pleted the presentation of the idealistic, 
mystical, Don Quixote type of human nature. 

While I thus reflected, my friend continued 
to pour out fresh instances proving satis- 
factorily to any non-prejudiced mind the 
correctness of his theory. 

' But what are you going to do with him ?' 
I asked eventually, ' for after all that is the 
important thing. I mean, his being here 
with you may be very nice for him, but 
it doesn't teach him a trade, and you can't 
afford to keep him, I know, for long.' 



222 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

* First of all,' eagerly began my friend, 

* I propose to keep him long enough to 
re-instate him in his self-respect ; secondly, 
to study his temperament and character 
thoroughly in order to discover what line 
of life he is best suited for, and then to get 
him some appropriate situation. That is the 
programme, and, I think, a quite practical 
and satisfactory one. There is no " pauper- 
izing " here, you see ; it is simply giving a 
man a fair chance. And now,' he con- 
tinued briskly, ' come out and inspect the 
garden.' 

The protege, it appeared, had been making 
himself useful therein, which my friend 
thought was a highly encouraging sign, 

* for,' said he, * no bad man ever cared for 
gardening.' 

The next few days I spent contentedly 
in absolute idleness, now strolling up the 
waterside, now smoking and reading peace- 
fully in the little arbour behind the herbaceous 
border. I had almost forgotten the existence 



THE PROTEGE 223 

of my bete-noir ; he showed, indeed, a most 
commendable readiness to efface himself as 
much as possible from observation, and when 
I chanced to pass him he seemed rather to 
avoid me than to seek my company. ' Good- 
morning,' I would say, if I happened to 
come out of the house before breakfast for 
a stroll, and find him chopping firewood, 
* lovely weather, and looks like lasting, I 
think.' 

' Ay,' he would usually reply, with a hurried 
touch to his cap, * it's canny weather,' then 
muttering something about being busy, would 
incontinently hurry into the house. I took 
this as a sign of grace, and was quite favour- 
able to the mode of intercourse thus estab- 
lished. But my host, I could see, was pained 
at my apparent lack of interest in his protege ; 
so the next day, finding Blythe engaged in 
tying up the suckers of the honeysuckle to 
the trellis of the arbour, I went boldly up 
to him, determined to try and draw him 
out. 



224 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

* Well, and how do you like the country ?' 
I inquired. ' A pleasant change after town 
life, eh ?' 

He gave me a quick, suspicious glance in 
return, then muttering, 'Ay, dootless,' again 
devoted himself to his occupation. 

I tried again, but, meeting with no en- 
couragement, became, I am bound to confess, 
a little nettled, as though with an insub- 
ordinate witness. The happy insouciance 
1 thought to have marked in him at our first 
encounter had vanished, and ' 'Tis the knifing 
variety, after all,' I murmured to myself, and 
fell to scrutinizing him somewhat severely. 
There was something about him that some- 
how seemed familiar to me. I determined to 
probe, and see if he would wince. 

* Possibly you don't care about the country ?' 
I suggested smoothly ; * towns, perhaps, 
attract you more. York, for example, is a 
nice town, and, by chance, say September 30 
for a little business in the vicinity, eh ?' 

He looked me full in the face at this, a 



THE PROTEGE 225 

very ugly smile curving his lips, as he replied 
abruptly, ' What Is it you're wanting ?' 

* I don't know that I want anything for 
myself,' said I, somewhat elated at the success 
of my conjecture, ' but I should like fair play 
for my friend inside. Pheasants are scarce 
hereabouts, but possibly other things might 
come In useful. I needn't specify,' I con- 
tinued airily, ' to a gentleman of your intelli- 
gence ; 'twould be superfluous.' 

For reply he made a bound at me, head 
down, and both fists outstretched. It was as 
the rush of the bull for the matador's flag, 
and my bound aside just saved me from his 
charge, though his right fist touched me on 
the chest and sent me staggering backward. 

He turned, and came again ; this time I 
had more space for manoeuvre, and the 
memory of an old fencing trick, learned In 
Angelo's school of arms, swift as a flashlight, 
lit within my brain. I leant forward as 
though to meet him like a boxer, then, 
as he rushed upon me, turned quickly side- 

15 



226 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

ways, fencing fashion, and slipped half a foot 
backward. He missed me by a hand's 
breadth ; a reek of tobacco touched me 
hotly on the cheek : another moment and 
I had leapt forward on a late ' time thrust/ 
and caught my antagonist neatly just behind 
the ear. I had been unable to put any 
strength into the blow, but It proved to be 
enough to upset his poise. He staggered, 
stooped, and then fell headlong on the path, 
scarce having time to break his fall with hand 
or arm. 

He lay there for a moment or two, 
apparently half-dazed ; then, slowly picking 
himself up, leant back with folded arms 
against an apple-tree, and surveyed me with 
a sort of sulky resignation. 

'Well, you've got the better o' me again,' 
said he ; ' you've the luck on your side, nae 
doot. " BIng lay your shero," I overheard him 
mutter to himself under his breath, which, 
taken in conjunction with his name, amply 
sufficed to confirm my conjecture of his gipsy 



THE PROTEGE 227 

origin. ' What is 't ye want wi' me ?' he 
continued, in a louder voice. 

' As I said before,' I replied slowly, seating 
myself upon a wooden bench in front of the 
arbour, ' I only require fair play for my 
friend within. A man of the world like 
yourself can easily deceive him, even to 
the half of his kingdom ; and if he has a 
fancy to cure the leopard of his spots or 
whitewash the Ethiopian — or perhaps I might 
say the " Egyptian " rather — 1 would like the 
process to be as inexpensive as possible to 
him — you understand ?' I queried of my 
opposite, smiling as 1 spoke ; for I had the 
whip-hand of him undoubtedly, and to be 
unpleasant politely is part of the lawyer's art. 

' To put the matter more clearly still/ I 
continued, for he had made no response 
to my suggestion, ' I think a week of fresh 
air and quiet seclusion in the country should 
be enough for any man of active habits after 
a period of enforced leisure ; the hair, more- 
over, grows quickly in a country retreat, 
15—2 



228 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

as Joshua's messengers found of old, and, 
briefly, what I would advise is a moonlight 
flitting.' 

Pleased with the brevity of my peroration, 
I took my cigarette-case from my pocket, 
and, having selected a cigarette, carefully 
proceeded to light it with the utmost de- 
liberation. 

I had taken my eyes off him for the 
moment, partly in order to ascertain if the 
cigarette were properly alight, partly to 
perfect the illusion of sangfroid ; and dearly 
I paid for my rashness, for with a bound he 
was upon me. 

I ducked ; but it was too late, and over I 
went backward, my enemy a-top of me, crash 
through the arbour on to the stone flagging 
within. 

I was stunned, I suppose, for a minute or 
so, for I lay there wondering what had 
happened, and annoyed that a wasp, as I 
thought, should have stung me in the neck. 
In another moment I had discovered that 



THE PROTEGfi 229 

the smart was due to a bit of live cigarette- 
ash that had chanced to drop inside my 
collar in my fall, and I tried to put up a hand 
to remove it. To my disgust, I found my 
hands were knotted tightly together; my 
legs, too, were bound, and, as I turned my 
head, my eyes met those of my enemy, 
sitting beside me on a low stool. 

' The gadgi ' (viz., ' gorgio,' or man of non- 
gipsy race) ' is but a fool in his pride and self- 
conceit,' said he ; 'he is but a tortoise, for all 
his Pushkin's (hare) gallop at the start.' 

This was what I heard him saying as I 
recovered consciousness, and as I knew that 
gipsies alv/ays hide their origin, and refrain 
from their language in the presence of the 
'gorgios,' I felt certain he must be labour- 
ing under great excitement, and momentarily 
expected to see him out with his knife and 
finish me there and then. Here he stooped, 
and I thought my hour had come, but 
apparendy it was only to pick up my fallen 
cigarette. Pinching off the blackened end, 



230 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

he put it between his Hps, and, lighting it at 
the other end, drew In deep breaths of 
tobacco-smoke. 

' I don't wonder you enjoy It,' said I, as I 
watched his proceedings with an Intense 
annoyance ; ' successful theft Is pleasant to a 
tchor (thief), I presume ?' 

' And who's the tchor In the end,' retorted 
he — ' you or me ? Speak, little gutterwhelp 
from the toon, that art paid to He at so many 
bars (sovereigns) the He. Your kind take a 
man's money, plead so 111 that at the finish 
the " stande " (gaol) has him, while the big 
thief's left behind In court wl' a white wig on, 
an' a smile on his ugly mol (mouth). Who's 
the tchor, then ?' he repeated with a leer, as 
he blew a cloud of smoke in the air. ' I 
'low ye got me nabbed at York 'Sizes, but 
it wesn't yor doin', 'twas that dirty Jack 
Spraggon, who turned informer an' legged 
me that time. Why, ye pink-eyed toon's- 
spawn. If I'd my rights, an' things were 
as they aince was, I'd hang ye tae the 



THE PROTEGE 231 

nearest tree. Look there,' he cried, as, 
stirring me with his foot, he drew up his 
coat-sleeve and thrust a tattoed wrist over 
my eyes — ' look there, d'ye ken what that 
is?' 

I gazed with Interest, for It was evidently 
an heraldic coat, excellently well punctured 
in his flesh. 

' A lion rampant within a tressure fleury 
counter fleury, by Jove ! debruised by a bar 
sinister,' I murmured aloud. 

My thoughts went back at a bound to 
memories of the ' Gaberlunzie Man ' of the 
ballad, the errant James V., and ' ane loult 
Johnnie Faa, Lord and Earl of Little Egypt,' 
but all I said was, * Still, people don't boast 
of an Illegitimate origin nowadays.' 

' Illegitimate !' he cried angrily ; 'I'll teach 

ye manners, ye ' but here a step sounded 

on the path outside, and In another moment 
my host peered In at the doorway. 

'Tut — tut — tut,' said my friend, removing 
his glasses from his nose in his agitation, 



232 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

' dear, dear ! what can have happened ? 
Speak, Ned ; explain. Will.' 

My adversary rose to his feet, saluted our 
interrogator somewhat shamefacedly, and, 
pointing to myself, replied, ' He wes sae 
impiddent wi' me I'd just tae teach him a 
lesson, but nae harm's done.' 

' Oh,' cried my little friend, and he 
positively wrung his hands in his distress, 
* but you shouldn't,' and here he looked 
at us reproachfully in turn. Then a happy 
thought seemed to rise in his brain. ' We 
must forget all about this unhappy occur- 
rence,' cried he ; ' we will not inquire into it, 
but will shake hands all round, and begin 
afresh.' 

So saying he immediately knelt down, 
undid my bandages, and helped me to rise 
from the floor. ' Now,' he cried, and seized 
hold of our respective hands. 

* Well,' said my antagonist, ' I bear no 
malice, but keep yor tongue a bit civiler i' 
future,' 



THE PROTEGE 233 

* And refrain from pheasants and legs of 
mutton,' I nearly retorted, but stayed my 
tongue in time, and the three of us shook 
hands promptly all round, as desired. I was 
willing enough to shake hands because I felt 
I had been in error in taunting my antagonist, 
but I was not prepared for the reproof my 
host had in store for me, as he put his arm 
through mine, and led me away for a stroll 
up the brae. 

' Oh, how could you do it ?' he said. 
' You must have stung him beyond en- 
durance, and you promised, you remember, 
to respect him.' 

* I only told him the truth,' I replied 
sulkily. ' As a matter of fact, I recognised 
in him the first individual I ever had the 
pleasure of getting convicted — at York 
Assizes — pheasant - poaching, stoning a 
keeper, etc. One's first conviction is like 
one's first love — one can't forget it.' 

' Ah, but if it is so, that is just an incident 
in that past career of his which is quite dead 



234 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

and buried now ; you see yourself how 
annoyed he was at your bringing it up 
against him. Of course, his conduct was 
inexcusable,' he hastily added, suddenly 
remembering doubtless that he was my host, 
' but this vigour of resentment proves to my 
mind the genuineness of his repentance.' 

It was hopeless to argue, so I turned the 
subject, inwardly resolving that I would 
leave on the morrow. 

After supper that evening I went outside 
to smoke, and there lingered long, enjoying 
the soft, luminous northern twilight. 

The murmur of the stream in the valley 
trembled amidst the silence of the night, as 
of some old monk telling his beads in the 
solitude of a vast cathedral. Suddenly a 
discordant singing sounded down the vale. 
' Some ^roysterer,' thought I with disgust. 
' I suppose there must have been a wedding 
or some festivity of that sort.' 

The sounds rose and fell fitfully, but grew 
gradually louder. It was evident someone 



THE PROTEGE 235 

was coming 'up the wattor,' and I waited to 
see who the disturber of our quiet could be. 

The last corner had apparently been 
turned, for now I could hear the voice 
distinctly. ' The protege again, by Jove !' 
I orroaned. 

I meditated instant flight, but a fit of 
laughter caught me, and I stayed. Out of 
the gray twilight a toper lurched up to the 
gate on which I leant, and, steadying himself, 
momentarily peered into my face. 

' No malish, litde Wool-shack, eh ?' quoth 
he with a grin. Then, becoming confidential, 
he leant forward and whispered, ' Drink ye 
for a *'bar," turn an' turn about,' producing 
as he spoke a most suspicious- looking black 
bottle. 

* Look here,' said I, 'why did you come to 
this place ?' 

' It's a free-sh country,' replied my opposite 
solemnly, ' an' wanderln's my trade, an' the 
wee big bairn upstairs, he's ta'en a sort o' 
woman's fancy for us. Noo, Wull Blythe's 



236 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

like his ancient forbears, royal Wull Faa, an 
the lave, an' he cannot say nae to a woman, 
though he'll ne'er tak' a look frae a man.' 

* Well, good-night,' I said, ' and don't wake 
the big bairn upstairs.' 

It was some time before I finished packing, 
and after that was done I sat down and had 
another pipe by the window. I was just 
dozing off when a smell of burning seemed to 
creep in upon my nostrils, and the atmos- 
phere grew thicker to my sub-consciousness. 

' It can't be anything,' I murmured In- 
wardly, and tried to recede still further into 
the dark grove of sleep, but a step outside 
my door effectually roused me. 

A light gleamed upon me. ' Come, my 
friend, come quick ; I fear the house is on 
fire,' cried my host at the doorway ; ' throw 
on a coat, wet your blankets, and follow me 
upstairs at once with them.' 

I rushed upstairs headlong some few 
seconds after, and stumbled over a prostrate 
form on the small garret landing, a reek of 



THE PROTEGE 237 

whisky giving me assurance of its identity. 
I rose hastily, and passed into the room 
beyond, where, amidst heavy smoke-wreaths, 
I perceived my host, now beating burning 
bedding with his hands, and again stamping 
with his feet upon smouldering coverings on 
the floor. 

I did my best to help him, and we 
succeeded shortly in getting the better of the 
conflagration. After emptying buckets of 
water over bed and bedding, we waited for 
some minutes to ascertain if any hidden fire 
lingered anywhere. 

' I think it will be all right now,' said my 
host ; ' but come, we must look after my 
poor friend outside — I fear he is badly 
burned. Poor fellow, he was lying in bed 
stupefied with the smoke. I suppose he 
must have fallen asleep reading, and the 
candle must have set fire somehow to the 
bed-clothes or curtain.' 

He had scarcely finished speaking when 
he swayed suddenly, and before I could reach 



238 TALES OF NORTHUMBRiA 

out an arm, had fallen to the ground in a 
dead faint. I lifted him up and carried him 
downstairs at once, and found that he was 
rather severely burnt about the hands. 

After 1 had restored him to consciousness 
as best I could and dressed his hurts, I 
proceeded, at my friend's earnest entreaty, to 
look after the protege, who was still lying 
prostrate on the garret landing, absolutely 
unconscious and hopelessly intoxicated. 

He was badly burnt on one arm, and 
scorched down one side of his body. Appear- 
ances seemed to show that he must have 
thrown off the counterpane and blankets on 
to the floor, that there they must have 
become ignited either from his fallen pipe or 
candle, and eventually have set fire to one 
side of the bed. 

The doctor had to be sent for, and for a 
week the protege was kept in bed ; when he 
did come down again he was as contrite as 
possible, and I carefully avoided all mention 
of the disaster, for I had a dim feeling of 



THE PROTEGE 239 

guilt In the matter, suspecting that he went 
down the valley that evening to the alehouse 
In consequence of his excitement at his 
triumph over myself. 

Now that he was about again, and my 
friend too was quite restored, I determined 
to depart, and the next morning went down 
early to the Frolic to enjoy a last bathe. 

I was sitting on a shelf of rock above a 
deep pool, drying myself slowly after my 
swim, when I heard sounds below me. 
Looking out from my shelter, I saw Blythe, 
who appeared to be about to follow my 
example. His procedure, however, was 
curious ; for first he cast his cap upon the 
waters, then carefully deposited what looked 
to me like a Bible on his coat on the 
bank, and, finally, having looked about him 
stealthily, took off his shoes and proceeded 
to ford the burn. 

* He's off,' I thought to myself, then cried 
to him, ' Holloa ! what's up ?' 

He stood stock-still in mid-stream like one 



240 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

petrified, then, perceiving me, waded slowly 
to shore. 

' Noo, don't ye blab tae Mistor Rutherford,' 
he said, as he came close up underneath 
where I was standing. ' I's awa aff. I 
cannot stay, but I doot the little man will 
be sair troubled aboot It, sae let him think 
on as that I'm drooned, wi' the Bible there 
tae show I's a convarted character, for he's 
been one tae many for Blythe, an' I wud'na 
like him tae grieve ower my disappointing 
him. I cam' for a bit fun, but It's turning 
tae seriousness noo, an' I can't bide any mair, 
that's a sartinty.' 

I don't know whether I acted wrongly or 
not, but I fell In with his view of the situation, 
and when I had finished my dressing he had 
already stolen out of sight. 

I stayed on another week after this, and 
during that time successfully concealed my 
connivance at the protege's flight. 

The discovery of his cap and coat was 
considered proof of his having been drowned, 



THE PROTEGE 241 

and the Bible, borrowed from himself for the 
occasion, provided at once a consolation for 
my friend and a rebuke to my scepticism. 

I spent a night in Oldcastle on my way 
back to town, and chance took me through 
one of the most thickly populated, though 
not most aristocratic, quarters of the city. 
It was a fine night, and I had prolonged my 
stroll unconsciously. Suddenly the swing- 
door of a public-house was thrown back 
violently, and a man came hurtling through, 
and fell with a thud on the pavement beside 
me ; a face peered through the aperture of 
the doors for a moment, and in a flash I 
recognised it. 

The gentleman who had been thus igno- 
miniously ' chucked out ' slowly pulled him- 
self together, collected his faculties and his 
hat with difficulty, uttered some violent and 
abusive epithets, then slowly staggered off 
down the street with drunken dignity. 

I went inside the aforesaid doors. My 
eyes had not deceived me, for there was the 
16 



242 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

prot6ge behind the counter in his new capacity 
of barman and ' chucker out' He signed to 
me to follow him Into the ' snug,' and there 
confided to me that he had got a permanent 
job for the first time in his life. 

'Here,' said he, 'is a bar' (sovereign); 
' send it along tae Mister Rutherford, an' 
tell him I's alive an' hearty, an' that I canna 
rest till Ts paid for the blankets an' beddin* 
I burnt the other week. Mind,' says he, 
' ye're not tae say where I am, but tell him 
IVe a situation, an's givin' satisfaction.' 

'Well,' thought I to myself, as I returned 
to my hotel, ' if my friend hasn't reformed 
the prot6g6, he has come at all events as 
near to success as is good for the ordinary 
mortal/ 



THE SPANISH DOUBLOON 

RANSACKING Jake's treasury one 
afternoon, I made an unexpected find 
— no less than a Spanish doubloon hidden 
away in an old sporran of a great-uncle of his. 

The history of the fox-marked rapier, of 
the blood-stained tress of hair found at 
Cawnpore, and of the yellow robe of the 
Brahmin, I knew already ; but the heavy 
Spanish coin suggested something of a 
different order. 

* Come,' said I, holding it up so as to 
attract his attention, 'tell me the tale con- 
nected with this — something to do with a 
pirate, or the Spanish Main, I dare swear.' 

Jake smiled quaintly as he fingered the 
coin with deliberation. ' Weel, it's a queer 
i6 — 2 



244 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

tale, sartinly, that's connected wi' yon coin, 
but all I can tell ye Is what my aunt telled 
me langsyne, when she presented it to me 
on my joining the sarvice, just before I left 
for India. 

' Noo, my aunt, ye mun ken, was a widow 
woman who lived on a bit property she had 
left her doon at the small, ootlandish-named 
seaport, as it was then, o' Bocca Chica, on 
the Northumberland coast. 

' There was a man there she kenned nicely 
— in fact, she aye said afterwards, wi' a 
shudder at the thocht o't, that at one time 
he wanted to marry wi' her — who cut a big 
figure i' the place, by name Isaac Stephen- 
son — " Black Isaac," as he was mair usually 
styled. It seems he had been bred and born 
i' the place, but had run awa to sea i' his 
youth, an' after many voyagings here an' 
there turns up again wi' pockets fu' o' siller, 
and a wee, misbegotten heathen dwarf o' a 
Malay as his attendant. 

' The dwarf called hissel' Chilpo, or some 



THE SPANISH DOUBLOON 245 

such uncanny name, an' was a kind o' body- 
servant an' clerk an' dirty-job man to Isaac. 
But Isaac never let on where he picked him 
up, an' Chilpo was a sour-tempered little deil, 
whom maist folks were terrified o'; sae nae- 
body e'er kenned muckle o' his antecedents 
or ancestry. 

' Weel, Isaac, on his settling doon again at 
home, set up I' business as a shipowner an' 
broker, an' carried on a large business as an 
exporter o' coals, an' did a bit, as maist 
everybody did I' those days, I' the smuggling 
line — salt, an' lace, an' brandy, ye ken. He 
had siller, as I said, when he started his new 
trade, though naebody kenned hoo he had 
come by It ; but it was no lang before he was 
the richest man I' the toon, an' folk began to 
talk weel o' him, an' praise him up as a good 
citizen as was a credit to the toon, an' ask 
him to open bazaars for them, an' suchlike. 

' There was just one strange thing aboot 
him, an' that was that the womenfolk couldn't 
abide him. E'en after he had made hisself 



246 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

the richest man i' the toon, he could ne'er 
get hissel' married, though 'twas said my 
aunt, when he took up wi' religion, had aince 
had a thocht o' him, but no for lang, for there 
was suthin aboot him that tarrified her when 
it came near the point. 

' He was no ill-favoured neither, for I 
mind seein' him mysel' as a lad aince I was 
stayin' wi' my aunt — a tall, poo'erfu', black- 
haired man, wi' heavy eyebrows, an' a lustfu' 
sort o' eye — half hectorin', half cowardly. 
But he had a cruel sort o' look aboot him — 
thick-lipped, an' greedy, sweaty sort o' hands. 

' Weel, after a good few years o' prosperity 
he turned sort o' sickly-like, an' for the first 
time i' his life began to think upon his latter 
end, an' at the finish takes up wi' a sect o' 
Bible Christians, or Christadelphians, or some 
such body, who were glad to get hold o' 
such a rich, influential sort o' person withoot 
askin' ower mony questions. 

*Weel, he gans to his chapel, an' he 
prays, an' he gies his testimony, an' calls 



THE SPANISH DOUBLOON 247 

hissel' all sorts o' names, but was ay cautious 
no to gle ower mony details o' his sins, an' 
the good folk were highly edified by it, my 
aunt amangst them, an' asked him for sub- 
scriptions for every sort o' charity. 

' But Chilpo, he couldna stand this sudden 
right-about-face, for there was nae releegion 
at aal I' his wee, misshapen anatomy, 
naething but love o' siller, and beastly, 
secretive pleasures o' opium drams an' such 
like. An' he mutinies against it, an' cusses 
an' swears to hissel' i' his pigeon-English 
talk, for Isaac by degrees began to hae his 
doots aboot the lawfu'ness o' smugglin' an' 
saeforth, an' Chllpo's wages an 'profits dootless 
wud suffer by his maister's scruples. 

* Consequence was, there grew to be bad 
blood betwixt maister an' man, an' folk could 
hear them quarrelling Inside the office o' 
nights, till at the finish there's a grand flare- 
up, Isaac seemingly strikin' Chilpo, an' Chilpo 
clickin' his maister wi' his knife. 

' Chilpo gets the bag for that, Isaac no 



248 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

daurin' to prosecute him, for he kenned ower 
muckle. But he disna leave the toon ; just 
hangs aboot, doggin' Isaac's footsteps, an' 
cussin' to hlssel' i' his queer, ootlandish way 
o' talk. '' Him coward," he would mutter, 
" but Chilpo brave man. He no take no 
blowee. Chilpo hang Isaac— hang himselfee 
— no matter — Chilpo fear nozzin'," an' he 
would gnash wi' his white teeth savagely 
like a mad dog as he saw Isaac pass along 
the street. 

' His heart was just as black as his sweaty, 
black phiznommy, an' he properly haunted 
Isaac till he fair plagued him to death. 

' One Sabbath, when there was a great 
function on at Isaac's chapel, he actually 
follows him in, an' sat sneerin' an' mimickin' 
an' makin' game o' Isaac as he prayed an' 
groaned, an' confessed to bein' a muckle 
great sinner i' the past, till Isaac was near 
mad wi' rage an' terror. He tried to pray, 
but the words wouldn't come richt, an' the 
sweat poured aff his brow, they said, till folk 



THE SPANISH DOUBLOON 249 

thought he was about to hae a fit or seizure 
o' some sort. 

' At the finish he gies it up, an', staggerin' 
on to his feet, points i' a frenzied sort o' way 
to Chilpo sittin' there below him, an' cries oot 
loud : " It's the deil, it's the deil ! Drive 
him awa ; drive him oot o' the holy place ! 
I tell ye he's sin hissel'. See the sooty face 
on him !" 

' " Ugh ! Black Isaac, him coward !" shouts 
Chilpo, standin' up on his seat. " Him sky- 
pilot nowee, no goodee any more. Once a 
timee diffelent ; good pilate once, grand pilate 
with Chilpo ; men's pilate, women's pilates, 
temple's pilates, all sorts pilates. Oh yez ; 
huzza ! Dam good timee then ; ping-pang, 
click -click, plenty moneys, plenty grogs, 
plenty funee. O yez ; Chilpo, he knowee." 
The little heathen chuckled to himself, makin' 
uncanny motions wi' his hands o' throat-cuttin' 
an' liquor-drlnkin' an' fillin' his pockets wI' 
siller. 

* '' Him hippie - elite nowee," continued 



250 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

Chilpo, shoutin' aloud to all the chapel-folks 
who hadn't recovered theirsels from their 
amazement ; '' dam hipple-clite ! Why, him 
worship the debbil like Chilpo former timee. 
Him no use for prayee ; him dam-ee, curs-ee ; 
him Church's pilate, women's pilate, then 
burnee together. Oh yes, him lemember 
allight ; askee him," an' wi' that he points 
his finger at Isaac, whose face was workin' 
in a frightful fashion, his eyes starin' this 
way an' that, wi' no meanin' i' them, his lips 
black, an' his mouth slobberin' ; then sudden 
he starts to run, but catches his foot an' 
falls full length doon on the iioor an' drums 
wi' his hands amangst the cushions. 

* There was a panic at that ; half o' the 
women faints dead awa, the bairns scream, 
and some o' the men drives Chilpo, still 
chucklin' to himself, oot at the door wi' 
blows, whilst others attend to Isaac lyin' 
wi' his head covered i' the dusty cushions an' 
his hands hard a-grip o' the seat-stanchions. 

* They loosens his grasp wi' difficulty, but 



THE SPANISH DOUBLOON 251 

lifts him up at the finish wi' a shockin' face 
on him, an' a senseless tongue that babbled 
aboot a parrot. Some said it mun ha' been 
i' reference someway to some wicked episode 
i' his past life which Chilpo kenned o' an' 
alluded to i' the chapel. Maybe a parrot had 
been left the sole survivor after a sack, ye 
ken, an Isaac couldna forget the scene. Any- 
ways, Chilpo, the dam cunnin' little de'il, 
kenned o' the hidden sore i' Isaac's mind, 
an' laid a cruel finger on 't wi' the blackest 
malice. An' there was nae doot aboot the 
outcome o't, for Isaac was gone clean daft, 
an' died not long afterwards i' the asylum. 

* Weel, they gled him a big buryin', for his 
brethren i' the chapel said they believed he 
was a true repentant sinner, an' forbye that 
he had left a good bit siller amangst them, 
which would dootless assist them to that con- 
clusion ; an' as there had been some body- 
snatchin' lately, they determined to form a 
small watch committee to keep guard at the 
graveside for a night or two. 



252 TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA 

* Weel, the watch was composed o' some 
decent elderly folk, who didn't trash thelr- 
selves ower the job ; an' mevvles the funeral 
festivities had delayed them a bit, for they 
didn't arrive at the graveyard till aboot half- 
past ten o' the clock. 

' It was ane o' thae tempestuous October 
nights, wl' half a gale blowin', an' clouds 
gallopin', wI' flittln's o' moonlight like jockeys 
ridin' 'em ; an' when they came nigh to 
the graveside, an' saw a dark, misshapen 
sort o' a figure plyln' an axe vigorously, an' 
heard a thud, thud, same as ye may when 
passin' by a butcher's shop any day, why, 
they turned tail and fled, the most o' them 
stumblin' this way an' that amangst the 
headstones. 

' Two o' them, though, was a bit bolder, 
an' pressed on up to the graveside, where- 
upon the little black demon figure thuds 
doon his axe wi' a sickenin' sound, then 
dives awa into the darkness, screechin' oot : 
'' Chilpo, Chilpo ! he makee sicker, he makee 



THE SPANISH DOUBLOON 253 

sicker !" and therewith vanished frae Bocca 
Chlca. 

' As for the doubloon,' concluded Jake, 
spinning it Into the air as he spoke, ' it was 
found amangst some leavin's o' Chllpo's at 
his lodgln's, an' sold wi' some other trinkets 
to pay some small debts he had left behind 
him. 

* My aunt bought it up as a memento o' 
the marclfu' preservation she had had frae 
marryin' wi' a buccaneer ; an' when I said 
good-bye to her on startin' for India, she 
presented it to me, wi' an admonition ne'er 
to have any traffic wi' dwarfs or pirates.' 



THE END 



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